League leaders claim the points as late headed goal defies Town's valiant efforts


John Dingle

A late headed goal from David Hurley proved to be the match winner for Galway United as they defeated Athlone Town in an eagerly contested league fixture played at a well attended Lissywollen on Friday night last.

Just as it appeared that the league leaders were dropping points for the second week in a row, Hurley headed home with five minutes remaining.

Athlone were first into action as Frantz Pierrot saw his shot tipped behind by Brendan Clarke. Noah VanGeenen could not get a clean connection on the resulting corner kick. Pierrot was again in action on nine minutes but this time fired over.

Galway’s first chance moments later could have resulted in the opening goal but Hurley’s attempt was cleared off the goal line. Ronan Manning then fired wide from the edge of the penalty area with the first Galway corner kick soon following. Athlone's Jamar Campion-Hinds was also denied when his shot was pushed behind by Clarke.

Two more corners followed for the Town before the half hour mark. Manning was again off target for Galway with Athlone having two more chances. Pierrot headed wide and Patrick Hickey then fired straight at the keeper.

Galway were also struggling to make the breakthrough as Stephen Walsh fired over and another corner failed to trouble the home defence. United though had a good chance to take a lead into the half time break, but Enda Minogue pulled off a fine double save to firstly deny Walsh and a follow up attempt from Killian Brouder.

The second half proved to be almost totally dominated by the visitors. Aside from two corners, Athlone were seldom seen as an attacking force. The hosts had the first corner when play resumed but Galway were quickly into their stride. Hurley had a shot saved with Athlone's last corner after 54 minutes proving to be the final time Galway were slightly troubled.

Vincent Borden had a chance but Minogue was quickly out to avert the danger. Two more corners followed for United but still Athlone held firm. Another good chance fell the visitor’s direction midway through the half but once more the Town keeper excelled as he tipped over Maurice Nugent’s header at the expense of a corner. Oisin O’Reilly tried his luck from long range but the strike cleared the bar. Wassim Aouachria had the chance to cap his debut for Galway with a goal but could not force the ball home.

It looked like Athlone had weathered the storm as the closing stages approached but the deadlock was finally broken with five minutes remaining. Edward McCarthy, from the right, delivered a cross into the penalty area. Hurley got ahead of Hickey to plant an unstoppable header into the top corner of the net, the United top scorer coming up trumps as the away pressure finally paid off. It all but ended the action in an entertaining contest.

Four additional minutes were indicated but Athlone had no response at this late stage. The home team had tried their best to frustrate the table toppers but fell just short of creating a shock.


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