Paul Corcoran report from Eamonn Deacy Park
It was almost like a first normal night in nearly two years at Eamonn Deacy Park on Friday as 800 fans were admitted to a game in Galway for the first time in nearly two years due to Covid restrictions. Add to that copious amounts of rain and it really felt like a typical night on the banks of the Corrib.
Although with positive vibes around the return to a semblance of one form of normality, there also came with it the first taste of defeat for the Tribesmen in eight games as they were beatan 3-2 by Cork City in a five goal thriller.
John Caulfield made two changes to the side that beat Wexford last week with Wilson Waweru and Stephen Walsh coming into the side in place of Thomas Oluwa and Alex Murphy, who signed his first professional deal with the club this week.
Alec Byrne and Gordon Walker came into the starting XI for Cork City as Colin Healy’s two changes from the side that drew with UCD in their last game. Aaron Bolger dropped to the bench while Jonas Hakkinen was forced to miss out due to injury.
The Tribesmen were on top early on in this game with Ruairí Keating and Waweru both having shots on target in the opening ten minutes.
It was the visitors who took the lead however when Dylan McGlade went on a mazy run down the left wing in the 15th minute only to cut inside and beat Waweru. He fired off a neat low shot, finding the bottom corner of Galway’s net with a spectacular individual effort.
John Caulfield’s men were back on level terms in the 24th minute with Killian Brouder sending a long throw deep into the box from the left. Waweru just about managed to get a head to it, nodding the ball into the opposite corner of the goal.
That parity would last for approximately a minute with City getting down the opposite end of the field and taking advantage of some lacklustre Galway defending. Ronan Hurley’s low cross from the left wing made it all the way to the other side of the box allowing Darragh Crowley smash the ball into the bottom corner to put the visitors ahead once more.
McNulty came to Cork’s rescue again five minutes from the break with a fingertip save from a good effort by David Hurley inside the box.
Galway kept the pressure on with a couple of corners after the initial save and they got their reward with McCormack’s second high ball into the box. It took a few touches in the area but it was Killian Brouder who got the final touch to put it over the line, with the defender in a rich vein of form having scored against Wexford last week.
There was a major bit of controversy a minute before the hour mark after a Barry Coffey corner-kick. The assistant referee waved his flag for what looked like a penalty but referee Michael Connolly overruled the official and continued on with the game much to the disappointment of the Cork City management.
Galway went close twice in the 70th minute with McNulty pulling off another two great saves. Second half substitute Shane Doherty had an effort from outside the box and Keating saw an opportunity to get on the rebound but McNulty was able to deny the home side again with a close range save.
City took the lead again in the 78th minute after some great work by McGlade on the left flank to take the ball into the centre before playing a through ball to Gordon Walker. He played a low cross to substitute Sean Kennedy, who was only on the pitch for three minutes at that point, and he slotted the ball past Conor Kearns.
Mikie Rowe’s first touch of the game was a free-kick on the edge of the box in the 83rd minute and the midfielder went close but it was McNulty again who made the difference for the visitors with another save to deny Galway.
Galway United: Conor Kearns; Stephen Walsh, Conor O'Keeffe, Maurice Nugent, Killian Brouder, Gary Boylan (Mikie Rowe 83); Conor McCormack, David Hurley (Thomas Oluwa 83); Wilson Waweru (Padraic Cunningham 62), Mikey Place (Shane Doherty 62), Ruairi Keating.
Subs not used: Luke Dennison, Joe Gorman, Christopher Horgan, Caoilfhionn O'Dea, Alex Murphy.
Booked: David Hurley (59), Conor McCormack (66), Stephen Walsh (73), Maurice Nugent (88).
Cork City: Mark McNulty; Barry Coffey, Josh Honohan, Ronan Hurley, Gordon Walker; Alec Byrne (Sean Kennedy 74), Cian Coleman, Darragh Crowley, Dylan McGlade; Cian Murphy, Beineon O'Brien Whitmarsh (Aaron Bolger 74).
Subs not used: Paul Hunt, Luke Desmond, Jamie Wynne, Cian Bargary, Oran Crowe, Jack Walsh.
Booked: Cian Murphy (80) Cian Coleman (83).
Referee: Michael Connolly.
extratime.com Player of the Match: Mark McNulty (Cork City)