Patrick O Connor reports from Tallaght Stadium
Shamrock Rovers recorded a fairly routine 2-0 home win against First Division opponents Galway United in the FAI Cup in Tallaght Stadium on Friday night and in so doing began their quest for a trophy they have already won 25 times since they were founded in 1899.
The gulf in class between the top side in the Premier Division and second in the First Division was clearly evident in the opening 45 minutes as Rovers owned the ball and completely dominated the game as they played it out mostly camped in Galway’s half of the pitch.
Galway’s case was not helped by a booking for young Alex Murphy after less than two minutes of action when he ploughed into Graham Burke right in front of the referee Rob Hennessy’s eyes.
He put in a similar challenge on Richie Towell five minutes later and was lucky to only get a stern verbal warning from Hennessy on this occasion. He was hooked by Galway manager John Caulfield on 31 minutes, Galway’s task was hard enough without trying to complete it with only 10 men.
Rovers took a deserved lead after 17 minutes of play. The ball was played out to Towell on the right touchline and he whipped in a low cross between the Galway centre backs which Rory Gaffney latched onto and then steered past Conor Kearns. It was a simple but well executed goal in a move which was to prove profitable again before half time.
The second goal came only four minutes later. This time it was Sean Gannon who crossed from the end line on the right- hand side and Dylan Watts got ahead of the Galway defenders to guide the ball home.
Stephen Bradley’s side continued to press and probe at will for the remainder of the first half as a third goal would have killed off the match but Caulfield’s side managed to hold out to leave it 2-0 at the break.
The visitors put in a much-improved performance in the second half however, particularly in the opening and closing 15-minute periods.
Caoilfhionn O’Dea had their first shot in anger in the 54th minute, his effort forced Alan Mannus to palm the ball away for a corner.
They created a great chance in the 69th minute when Mikey Place played a lovely cross field ball to Ruaidhri Keating who turned Roberto Lopes before unleashing a shot which came off the post.
Keating had another great effort on 77 minutes, this time he swivelled in a crowded penalty area and managed to draw a top class save from Mannus who again was forced to concede a corner.
Rovers were content to play out the end of the game in containment mode, they had the two-goal cushion and were generally able to deal with the renewed challenge from Galway until Hennessy brought an end to the game in the 93rdminute.
Shamrock Rovers: Alan Mannus; Lee Grace, Roberto Lopes, Joey O’Brien (Liam Scales 61) Sean Gannon, Dylan Watts, Gary O'Neill, Richie Towell (Conor Noonan 72) Sean Kavanagh (Max Murphy 80), Rory Gaffney (Aaron Greene 72), Graham Burke.
Subs not used: Leon Pohls, Ronan Finn, Dean McManamey, Dylan Duffy.
Booked: Sean Gannon (25)
Galway United: Conor Kearns; Joe Gorman, Gary Boylan, Alex Murphy (Caoilfhionn O’Dea 31), Stephen Walsh, Mikie Rowe (Padraig Cunnigham 72), Christopher Horgan, Maurice Nugent, Mikey Place (Colin Kelly 81), Wilson Waweru (Thomas Olowa 46), Ruairi Keating.
Subs not used: Luke Dennison, Charlie Concannon, Ethan Connolly.
Booked: Alex Murphy (2)
Referee: Rob Hennessy
Extratime.com Player of the Match: Dylan Watts