Karl Sheppard returned to Terryland Park to put his former employers to the sword as Shamrock Rovers beat Galway United 1-0 to maintain their supremacy at the top of the Airtricity Premier Division.
Sean Connor was counting able bodies after the defeat as more injuries confounded the already depleted United side with Bobby Ryan and Shaun Maher going off to add to the casualty list.
Rovers were ahead as early as the seventh minute in Terryland Park as former employee Karl Sheppard returned to torment Galway United. Gary McCabe's teasing cross was met by the lively Sheppard who made no mistake from six yards out. Sheppard almost turned provider two minutes later when he crossed for compatriot O'Neill who saw a well placed shot turned away by Fleming in the Galway goal.
Galway needed to turn the tide and fast, and regaining parity in midfield was crucial to this. Soon Sean Kelly and Gary Kelly began linking up well with Murphy creating opportunities to take pot shots at goal. First Sean Kelly saw a shot fizz just wide on 19 minutes before Murphy brought the best out of Alan Mannus in the Rovers goal with a curling effort from the edge of the box.
An often tempestuous affair caused more headaches for Sean Connor as he saw both Bobby Ryan and Shaun Maher leave the field with injuries, the latter with a nasty face injury after a collision with his own player.
As Connor reshuffled, sending Brian Cash and Stephen Feeney on respectively Rovers sought to double their lead. O'Neill had a goal disallowed for offside after more good play from McCabe down the right flank. Ken Oman and Sheppard had two soft headers easily collected before the latter ended the half with a fierce drive that clipped the side of the post. .
Galway started the second half in adventurous mood and despite their host of injuries made good inroads into the Rovers half, but yet again a lack of a cutting edge up front proved their undoing and they couldn't create the clear cut chances to trouble Alan Mannus.
By comparison Rovers were adept in creating clear opportunities but their finishing left a lot to be desired. O'Neill wasted a glorious opportunity to double the lead for the visitors but couldn't keep his shot down from 16 yards on 52 minutes, McCabe too wasted an opportunity when he was set through by Sheppard but couldn't pull the trigger before he got crowded out. .
Billy Dennehy was better with his effort but found Fleming, easily United most consistent performer this term, too big to beat when he cut in from the left wing. Ronan Finn and substitute Paddy Kavanagh also came close but again couldn't find the net as Galway retained hope going into the final five minutes of causing an upset. .
Rather than extinguish that hope with a second goal, Rovers simply played the ball around their hosts for the final minutes before going for the corners in the final seconds to grind out a result.
Galway United: Greg Fleming; Shaun Kelly, Stephen Walsh, Paul Sinnott, Shaun Maher (Stephen Feeney 39); Bobby Ryan (Brian Cash 27), Gary Kelly, Sean Kelly, Alan Murphy, Karl Moore; Shane Keogh (Mikey Gilmore 70).
Subs Not Used: Conor Winn, Enda Curran, Rory Gartland, Eduardo Dusi.
Bookings: Shaun Kelly (69), Brian Cash (92).
Shamrock Rovers: Alan Mannus; Pat Sullivan, Dan Murray, Ken Oman, Enda Stevens; Gary McCabe (Ciaran Kilduff 70), Stephen Rice, Ronan Finn, Billy Dennehy; Gary O'Neill (Paddy Kavanagh 82), Karl Sheppard.
Subs Not Used: Ryan Thompson, Pat Flynn, Conor McCormack, Sean Gannon, Dean Kelly.
Bookings: Rice (45), Sullivan (59), Murray (80).
Referee: Paul Tuite.
Extratime.ie Man of the Match: Karl Sheppard, got the goal and was a threat always.