Paul Corcoran reports from Eamonn Deacy Park
Galway United reduced the gap at the top of the First Division to seven points with a 3-1 win over Shelbourne on Friday night.
Goals from Shane Doherty, Killian Brouder and Ruairí Keating secured the three points as the Tribesmen defeated Shels for the first time since 2014.
John Caulfield made two changes to his starting line-up from their 3-2 loss at home to Cork City last week which left them ten points behind Shelbourne at the top of the First Division table. Shane Doherty and Mikie Rowe came into the side in place of Ruairí Keating and Mikey Place who dropped to the bench.
Shelbourne made four changes to the side that played out a scoreless draw with UCD last week Michael O’Connor was forced to miss out due to suspension with Jack McCarthy, Kameron Ledwidge and Michael Barker also missing out. Kevin O’Connor, Ally Gilchrist, Yassine En-Neyah and Brendan Clarke all started for Ian Morris’ men.
It was a quiet opening ten minutes in Deacy Park with the only shot coming in the third minute when Dayle Rooney fired over the crossbar from a free-kick just outside the box.
Galway United took the lead in the 12th minute with their first shot of the evening when Mikie Rowe controlled an attempted clearance by the visitors and slipped a ball out to the right wing to Conor O’Keeffe. The defender drilled the ball across goal with Shane Doherty arriving at the back post to smash it into the net for his second goal of the season.
Shane Farrell went close for the visitors in the 23rd minute when Shane Farrell rattled a shot off on the half-volley when he spotted goalkeeper Conor Kearns off his line but the midfielder failed to find the target.
The visitors only managed to threaten from long range in the first half with substitute Georgie Poynton, Brian McManus and Ryan Brennnan all firing over the bar for Shels.
The Tribesmen doubled their lead six minutes into the second half when David Hurley drilled a corner-kick into the box. Killian Brouder timed his run perfectly and never broke his stride as the defender headed the ball beyond goalkeeper Brendan Clarke.
Shels responded quickly with their first shot on target when Dayle Rooney took advantage of some hesitant Galway defending to strike a shot from outside the box, but the ball was straight at Kearns who clutched the ball into his chest.
Ally Gilchrist went close in the 68th minute when he nodded the ball just inches over the crossbar after coming to meet a Kevin O’Connor corner in the box.
Clarke was nearly caught out by a Conor McCormack corner 15 minutes from time with nobody meeting it on its way into the box only for it to strike the goalkeepers chest and go behind.
Shels went so close to getting a foothold in the game with another effort in the 83rd minute. Rooney played the ball into the box with the striker failing to strike it cleanly and Kearns easily able to prevent the ball striking the top corner.
The final sting in the tail for the visitors came in the 90th minute when Hurley got free and planted a ball to substitute Keating on the right wing.
Galway’s top scorer carried the ball forward and struck a beautiful shot into the bottom corner from an acute angle.
The home fans were in full voice at this point with Brian McManus’ late consolation goal even failing to dampen their spirits.
Galway United: Conor Kearns; Stephen Walsh, Conor O’Keeffe, Maurice Nugent, Killian Brouder, Gary Boylan; Conor McCormack, David Hurley, Shane Doherty (Mikey Place 83); Wilson Waweru (Ruairi Keating 64), Mikie Rowe (Padraic Cunningham 83).
Subs not used: Kevin Horgan, Luke Dennison, Joe Gorman, Christopher Horgan, Colin Kelly, Caoilfhionn O’Dea, Alex Murphy.
Booked: Mikie Rowe (43), Conor McCormack (59), Maurice Nugent (61), Stephen Walsh (68).
Shelbourne: Brendan Clarke; Yassine En-Neyah (Eric Molloy 62), Ally Gilchrist, Maxim Kouogun, Kevin O’Connor; Ryan Brennan, Shane Farrell, JJ Lunney (George Poynton 22), Brian McManus, John Ross Wilson; Dayle Rooney.
Subs not used: Jack Brady, Luke Byrne, Kameron Ledwidge, Michael Barker, Gavin Molloy, Yoyo Mahdy, Alex Nolan.
Booked: Ryan Brennan (45) Shane Farrell (76).
Referee: Alan Patchell .
extratime.com Player of the Match: Killian Brouder (Galway United)