Lights Out in Galway!
Match Report by James Donnelly
SSE Airtricity League First Division
Galway United 0-0 Longford Town FC
30/03/18 / Eamonn Deacy Park / 7.45pm
Longford Town left the West Coast on Friday night with a share of the spoils after a hard earned but well deserved 0-0 draw with Galway United at Eamonn Deacy Park. The Galway crowd of 1,029 left disappointed but probably relieved as Longford looked the most likely to nick it towards the end.
Galway came into the game on the back of a 2-2 draw with Drogheda while De Town had demolished a poor Athlone side 5-1 in City Calling Stadium the previous weekend.
Longford, minus the services of injured defender Alan Kehoe, winger Darren Meenan and Dylan McGlade (suspension), started the game cautiously. The back four of Shane Elworthy, Michael McDonnell, Daniel O’Reilly and Tristan Noack-Hofmann with-held early Galway attacks. Chris Mulhall almost struck first in the 11th minute when he latched on to a cross but it was easily gathered by Galway keeper Tadgh Ryan. Only two minutes later, former Town player Ryan Connolly put in a measured cross that was latched onto by Eoin McCormack but he failed to trouble Kelly in De Town goal.
The Longford midfield of local youngster Aodh Dervin and Dean Zambra settled into the game and soon began to take control. In the 20th minute, Dervin laid it off to Galvin who’s cross was met by O’Reilly but his header was straight into the hands of the tribesmen keeper. Galway captain Connolly had a chance soon after when his powerful shot from 30 yards sailed over the bar. 19 year old Dervin worked ferociously in the middle of the park and at times had the much older and more experienced Connolly in his pocket much to the disbelief of many Galwegians watching on from the stands.
Town looked to open the deadlock again when lively winger Karl Chambers cut inside on 32 minutes but his shot hit the side netting. The returning Sam Verdon who was playing just behind front man Chris Mulhall held up play a lot and released Chambers into space before Chambers shot wide.
Danny Furlong who has just one goal more than our own top scorer, Mulhall (5), this season, was 50/50 coming into the game but did start. He didn’t trouble Longford much until just before half time when he struck low and wide from a cross on the left wing.
The second half was interrupted after 10 minutes for a short while when one of the floodlight towers cut out. There was a collective groan heard around the stadium with many wondering was the curse of the floodlights that had hit Drogheda and Athlone in previous weeks about to hit Galway too! After consulting the GUFC officials and talking to both managers, play eventually resumed, albeit with a new addition on the pitch, a long shadow on the far side of the pitch in Galways goal half.
Things settled and both teams soon began creating chances again. Ubaezuonu began to create problems down the left wing, getting into space and putting in crosses for the Connaught side. Galway fans must have thought the opener had come when on 53 minutes Eoin McCormack struck low inside the box but his shot was narrowly wide of Michael Kelly's right post. Town almost went ahead 15 minutes later when some slack defending from Nugent saw Sam Verdon dispossess him and race through on goal only for another former Town player, Stephen Walsh, to make a last ditch tackle and put it out for a corner. Galway were let off again when Aodh Dervin (who put in a man of the match performance) raced down the left wing and emerged from the shadows to put in a high ball that narrowly went over the bar and almost caught the Galway keeper off guard.
After 11 minutes of injury time due to the stoppage, both teams finished goal-less in what was a tough, back and forth game. The travelling town fans which numbered around 70 in total would have felt the happier of the two considering the result. This was shown when Town Manager Neale Fenn marched the team over to the away section to show their appreciation of the support. And well deserved too! In a crowd of over 1,000, 70 Longford fans made themselves heard.
Most town fans, myself included, would have taken a draw before the game started but the way it played out, the style of football, the stand out performance of Aodh Dervin, left a sense of great optimism for all who witnessed it. This Town team can play football and this Town team fears no-one.
Galway United: Tadgh Ryan, Marc Ludden, Stephen Walsh, Maurice Nugent, Gary Shanahan, Stephen Kenny, Alex Byrne, Ryan Connolly (C), Carlton Ubaezuonu, Eoin McCormack, Danny Furlong
Subs: Arek Mamala, Aaron Conway, Gary Kineen, Conor Layng, Conor Barry (replaced Kenny '99), Conor Melody (replaced Ubaezuonu '99), Alan Murphy
Longford Town: Michael Kelly, Shane Elworthy, Michael McDonnell, Daniel O’Reilly, Tristan Noack-Hofmann, Evan Galvin, Aodh Dervin, Dean Zambra (C), Karl Chambers, Sam Verdon, Chris Mulhall
Subs: Jack Brady, Cian Byrne, Peter Hopkins, Jamie Hollywood, Jackson Ryan, Adam O’Connor (replaced Elworthy '99), Dean Byrne (replaced Mullhall '90)
Referee: Damien MacGraith
Photo Credit: Ken Keenan Photography
LTFC.ie Man of the Match: Aodh Dervin