United on song in second half to maintain promotion push

A second-half flurry of goals allowed Galway United to extend their commanding lead at the top of the first division to 13 points as they ruthlessly dispatched Longford Town in Eamonn Deacy Park on Friday night by 4-0.

With 16 games remaining, and 48 points still on offer, significant jeopardy still exists for United. However, Cobh Ramblers 1-0 win over Waterford last week provided another significant boost to United's title aspirations.

United's second-half display was imperious against a battling Longford, but the first half was a more even contest - the visitors having enjoyed the best of the early exchanges when Cristian Magerusan drew a smart save from Brendan Clarke at his near post.

As the half progressed, United began to dominate territory and ball. The bar was rattled twice mid-way through the half as they searched for an opener. Longford defender Aaron Walsh diverted a corner on to his own woodwork, and three minutes later Maurice Nugent found himself in space from a set-piece, but the bar again rescued the visitors.

Francely Lomboto, Stephen Walsh and Regan Donelon all had half-chances for United, but Jack Brady in the visitor's goal remained largely untroubled in the first half.

The tempo increased immediately after the break. Rob Slevin and Lomboto were both denied by goal-line clearances in an early second-half scramble.

However, the in-form David Hurley made the pivotal breakthrough in the 49th minute. He showed composure to take a touch at the edge of the box and class to place his shot in the bottom corner for his 11th goal of the season.

Centre-half Slevin thundered a header home five minutes later to make it 2-0. Lomboto was fouled on the edge of the box after another direct run, and captain Conor McCormack stood up the free and the defender did the rest.

Brady then made an excellent save after Donelon's fizzed cross was volleyed goalward by Walsh. The Longford stopper somehow contorted his legs to divert wide.

Longford threatened briefly to get back in the game when Josh Giurgi showed great skill at the other end, but his shot failed to trouble Clarke, who was set to keep his third consecutive clean sheet.

United hit the bar for a third time when Conor O'Keeffe met McCormack's in-swinging corner as United continued to pile forward. Remarkably, the two combined a minute later for the third from another corner from the left.

Sub Ronan Manning made a welcome return to the side and he made an immediate impact, winning a penalty after great footwork on the left. David Hurley added the icing, and his second, with a cool finish from the spot in the 87th minute.

With 22 points gained from the previous 24 on offer, United are in rude health before the visit of Kerry FC tomorrow night to Eamonn Deacy Park (7.45pm ). While Kerry have improved since their 9-1 drubbing earlier in the season in Terryland, the fixture nonetheless provides United with a big opportunity to further their promotion push.

 

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