League Report: Galway United 1 - 0 Finn Harps
Paul Corcoran reports from Eamonn Deacy Park
Galway United received a glorious reception when they returned to Eamonn Deacy Park as First Division champions on Monday night – they kept the good times rolling with a 1-0 win over Finn Harps.
The Tribesmen confirmed promotion and the First Division title on Friday night with a comprehensive victory over Kerry, Harps gave Galway a guard of honour as they entered the pitch on Monday in sporting gesture by the Donegal club.
An own goal was all that separated the sides as United extended their winning run at home to 15 games.
John Caulfield made five changes to his side after they secured the First Division title on Friday night away to Kerry. Conor O’Keeffe, Regan Donelon, Robert Manley, Aodh Dervin and Francely Lomboto all came into the side in place of Vince Borden, Conor McCormack, Maurice Nugent, Darren Clarke and Wassim Aouachira.
With the departure of Dave Rogers during the weekend, Darren Murphy took charge of the Donegal side on Monday night. Harps had two changes from Friday’s loss to Cobh Ramblers with Kevin Jordan and Ryan Rainey coming into the team in place of Max Hutchison, who dropped to the bench, and the suspended Sean O’Donnell.
The home side nearly took the lead through a David Hurley corner in the opening minutes of the game – Kevin Jordan headed the ball off the line at the back post to deny the Tribesmen.
Rob Manley got involved early in the game, first nearly setting up Stephen Walsh with a drilled cross – the striker heading wide, and then in the 15th minute he got on the end of a Francely Lomboto through ball but he flashed wide.
Harps’ goalkeeper Antonio Tuta was busy midway through the first half – he denied Hurley from a free-kick routine and then came up good once again when Killian Brouder headed the ball at goal from a corner-kick.
On the half hour mark, Lomboto picked up an unfortunate injury when he came down hard on his ankle, the forward left the field distraught and will be a loss for the Tribesmen as they prepare for a big FAI Cup semi-final in two weeks.
The Tribesmen made the breakthrough in the 41st minute when substitute Wassim Aouachira took the ball on in the box from Ed McCarthy, he slipped his marker with a great turn before firing a ball across goal. Stephen Walsh will claim it, but it looked like Jamie Watson had the last touch as the ball rolled into the defender’s net.
United nearly doubled their lead twice five minutes into the second half, Hurley drew a save from Tuta when he fired a shot from distance – the resulting corner found Walsh in the box and he turned on his heel and rattled the woodwork.
McCarthy showed great footwork for the home side in the 57th minute when the midfielder danced through the Finn Harps defence, his got a shot off at an angle but the ball bobbled wide with no maroon shirt at the back post too nudge the ball over the line.
The ball fizzed over the bar in the 68th minute with Rob Slevin heading the ball over from an Aodh Dervin corner kick, the midfielder having taken over the duties from Hurley who left the pitch for Vince Borden midway through the second half.
Seamas Keogh denied United in the 84th minute when Walsh headed down from an Oisin O’Reilly corner kick, the defender raked the ball off the line to deny the home side a second goal.
The game finished with little in the way of chances for Finn Harps with the Donegal side extending their run without a win to eight games.
Galway United: Brendan Clarke; Killian Brouder, Regan Donelon (Oisín O'Reilly 68), Conor O'Keeffe, Robert Slevin; Aodh Dervin (Evan O'Connor 68), David Hurley (Vincent Borden 55), Francely Lomboto (Wassim Aouachria 31), Edward McCarthy; Robert Manley (David Tarmey 68), Stephen Walsh.
Subs not used: Alexander Rutter, Daire McCarthy, Aaron Neary, Steven Healy.
Booked: John Caulfield (44), David Hurley (47), Oisín O'Reilly (86).
Finn Harps: Antonio Tuta; Kevin Jordan, Seamas Keogh, Matthew Makinson, Jamie Watson; Stephen Doherty (Daniel Stokoe 72), Patrick Ferry (Aaron McLaughlin 62), Ryan Flood, Tony McNamee (Caoimhin Bonnar 90), Ryan Rainey (Max Hutchison 72); Billy Banda Jr (Adam Duffy 90).
Subs not used: Rory Kelly, Oisin Cooney, Damian Duffy, Max Johnston.
Booked: Stephen Doherty (22), Kevin Jordan (88).
Referee: Adriano Reale.
Attendance: 2,000 (estimate)
extratime.com Player of the Match: Stephen Walsh (Galway United)