Disappointment for United on Premier Division return

Galway United’s Regan Donelon and St Pat’s Jamie Lennon in action from the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division game at Eamonn Deacy Park on Friday night. Photo: Mike Shaughnessy

Galway United’s Regan Donelon and St Pat’s Jamie Lennon in action from the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division game at Eamonn Deacy Park on Friday night. Photo: Mike Shaughnessy

Galway United’s return to the Premier Division had loomed large in the collective imagination for fans but it was not a night that will live long in the collective memory. Despite a spirited performance, the air of anti-climax was hard to dispel.

The gloom had set in around the football club before a weather forecast was checked. A social media storm over a post involving winger Ed McCarthy attracted negative national media attention.

A healthy crowd of 4,094 assembled in Eamonn Deacy Park but the spectacle suffered as the pitch cut up under the incessant rain, severely hindering the quality of the game.

Then Galway United fell behind in the opening minutes. A scuffed corner from the left wasn’t cleared and Jamie Lennon blasted a loose ball to the roof of the net.

It was a blow United would not recover from. They were equal to their more illustrious opponents in many aspects of the contest, but rarely threatened Marcelo Pitaluga in the Pat’s goal. The home side’s misery was compounded when striker Stephen Walsh saw red late on after a frank exchange with referee Eoghan O’ Shea.

In his inimitable style, Ollie Horgan summed up the evening concisely. The assistant manager praised both sides and how they managed the difficult conditions, highlighting the work rate of his own side.

‘We worked our backsides off. For honesty and endeavour, we weren’t found wanting. We were disappointed with our set-pieces. They had three corners in the game and scored from one. We didn’t defend it properly.’

‘After that we were quite good. But (we ) probably lacked that little bit of quality higher up the pitch.’

Horgan addressed the red card which will have ramifications for United going forward without much garnish.

‘I think Walshy hurt us when he got sent off. I felt Conor Keeley did push him but there was no need for the verbals. I spoke to Eoghan O’ Shea after the game. I’m not saying that we were very good but neither was he. I may as well call a spade a spade. That’s not the reason we lost. Walshy shouldn’t have done what he did. Walshy shouldn’t have said what he said regardless of whether it was a penalty or not. He knows himself he’s let us down.’

However, it was the underperformance in the third quarter that seemed to trouble the management team the most. Nevertheless, they were keen not to dwell and to switch focus to the next test.

‘For the first 30 minutes of the second half, I was disappointed, as was John, with our performance. We never really threatened. We didn’t really get up the pitch. Ironically, when we went down to ten men it was only then that we started huffing and puffing and getting up the pitch. We move on. We have 35 games to go. We go again to Dundalk.’

Dundalk’s impressive 1-1 draw away to Shamrock Rovers in Tallaght underscores the test in store for United tomorrow night in Louth. Stephen Walsh will be suspended and Wassim Aouachria was not fit enough to take a place on the bench for last Friday’s game.

This suggests United will have limited options up front. Tom Costello was bright when he dropped into space upon his introduction. Francely Lomboto also got some minutes out wide.

Garry Buckley hobbled off in the 66th minute last Friday. There is some depth in that position however, with Rob Slevin having slotted into his position.

Al-Amin Kazeem and Patrick Hickey made good cameos upon their introduction. There was positivity too around the performance of full-backs Colm Horgan and Regan Donelon. Both coped well with the wide threats of St. Pat’s and provided attacking outlets where possible.

Dundalk will throw up the conundrum for Colm of facing his brother Daryl as his opposite number. It is a test he has faced before and one he will enter into in confidence after his performance on Friday. The travelling United fans will hope the rest of the squad will gain similar confidence when they face the first of their tough Premier Division trips.

 

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