First Division round-up: Galway United revel in ‘special night’ as they clinch promotion
Galway United have ended their six-year stay in the First Division after officially securing promotion back to the top-flight.
The Tribesmen have been the runaway league leaders in the second tier all season thanks to a stunning run of form.
And they made their return to the top-flight official thanks to a 4-0 win away to Kerry.
The Tribesmen needed just a point against the Kingdom to ensure the inevitable.
And they got their first goal through former Waterford striker Wassim Aouachria just past the half-hour mark to set them on their way.
Influential midfielder David Hurley then ensured United would not be stopped when he slotted home a penalty with just over 15 minutes left to play in the second period.
Francely Lomboto and Hurley then completed the rout with goals in the 85th and 93rd minute of the game.
“It’s fantastic for the club,” boss John Caulfield told Virgin Media. “We’ve been very close in the play-offs over the last couple of years – and last year was really disappointing.
“But we felt that we were close and it’s fantastic to do it. It’s great for everyone. We worked really hard to get the team promoted.
"We'll celebrate tonight and get back to the football on Monday!"@GalwayUnitedFC boss John Caulfield speaks to @Jhiggins3 after his side became First Division champions in Kerry!— Virgin Media Sport (@VMSportIE) September 22, 2023
A few fans joined in too! #KERGAL | #LOIpic.twitter.com/glJ9awpsRV
“There’s a great buzz back in Galway and we have a semi-final of the FAI Cup to come. It would be fantastic if we can give that a good performance but (Friday) was about winning the league.
“We’re thrilled with it and we move on. It’s special, absolutely.”
Elsewhere in the First Division, Cobh Ramblers sealed their place in the play-offs thanks to a scintillating 5-1 win over Finn Harps at St Colman’s Park.
Dave Rogers’ side took a first-half lead through Patrick Ferry but were pegged back just two minutes before the break via a Mikie Rowe strike.
Great scenes at the end
"The Rams are going up "
— Cobh Ramblers FC (@CobhRamblersFC) September 22, 2023
And it unravelled for Harps in the second half following Sean O’Donnell’s dismissal on the hour mark.
A Jack Doherty penalty had the Rams ahead just before that dismissal but Shane Keegan’s men blitzed Harps with three more goals.
Matthew McKevitt, Doherty and Rowe all completed the scoring.
And Wexford took a huge stride towards securing a top-five finish with a 2-1 win at home to Bray Wanderers.
The result all but ends the Seagulls slim hopes of making the play-offs with their boss Ian Ryan admitting as much after the game.
Thomas Oluwa and Cian O’Malley both scored for Wexford either side of a Cole Omorehiomwan leveller for the Wanderers.
Bray are now nine points behind Wexford with just four fixtures left to play.
“I think the play-offs have gone now,” Ryan told his club’s media team. “That hurts it and it should hurt everyone involved with the first-team.
“We have four games left and we need to make sure that we perform and give some players an opportunity.”
We spoke to Head Coach Ian Ryan after tonight’s game in Wexford. pic.twitter.com/rW3Jr6HZEz— Bray Wanderers FC (@BrayWanderers) September 22, 2023
Meanwhile, Longford Town’s play-off hopes took a big hit when they were downed 3-0 at home by Waterford.
Ryan Burke opened the scoring for the Blues in the first-half.
And with Longford chasing the game in the second period they were dealt a hammer blow following the dismissal of Bastien Hery with two yellow cards in as many minutes.
Ronan Coughlan subsequently scored his first goal following a long injury lay-off while Christie Pattisson also netted.
And at the Market’s Field, ten-man Athlone Town slumped to a heavy 4-1 defeat against Treaty United.
Athlone took the lead in this game thanks to a Patrick Hickey opener in the 11th minute.
But a red card to Jack Kavanagh nine minutes later turned the game on its head with Marc Ludden firing home the resulting spot-kick soon after.
Success Edogun put Treaty ahead on the hour mark before a brace from Stephen Christopher sealed the deal for the Shannonsiders.
Like Longford, Treaty are seven points behind Wexford in the play-off race. But unlike the Red and Black, Treaty have just four games left to play while Longford have five.