Shamrock Rovers 3-3 Galway United.
Rovers went into this game decimated by injuries and absentees (several players abroad on holidays). The Hoops physio Conor Shields spent a lot of time on the pitch – treating the opposition players! After the visitors went into a 2-0 lead it was beginning to look like the depleted squad would lose their unbeaten run since the start of the campaign. But this is Rovers’ Under 17s – they don’t accept defeat; they don’t give up easily. What a spectacular goal too from Conor Fitzharris to get them back into it but firstly let’s look at what happened before then.
Galway started well and applied some decent spells of pressure. Although the Hoops did manage to put together some decent runs into the Galway box they certainly weren’t playing with the same composure we have become accustomed to from this side.
They found themselves 2-0 down within 26 minutes. The first came in the 22nd minute following some positive play from the visitors that resulted in Josh Quinlivan Keane taking hold of the ball from around the edge of the box and letting fire with a stunning shot that Kalvin Geraghty almost got a hand to but couldn’t stop.
Rovers were still recovering from that when they conceded what was, from their point of view, a controversial second. A free kick from deep on the left was met by Wilson Waweru who knocked it past Geraghty amid a crowed area. Geraghty was incensed as he maintained there was a handball involved but referee Eddie Reilly was having none of it and booked the Hoops ‘keeper for protesting too strongly.
The Hoops responded to this massive setback in typical style with Lee McEntee, playing wide on the right, going close with a shot over the bar.
They got themselves back into the game in the 31st minute with a stunning move and a stunning goal. Team captain and centre half Andrew Spain, in possession almost on the half way line, slotted the ball out to the left to Conor Fitzpatrick who carried it up as far as the Galway box. Everyone, including his own players, expected Fitzpatrick to release the ball into the box to one of his teammates but he had different ideas and seeing that the vision of Galway ‘keeper Mark Greaney was obstructed elected to pick out the top far corner of the net and drive the ball in via that route. It was a spectacular goal for sure.
With one minute left on the clock coming up to half time the fans were given another treat when Thomas Hannon made it 2-2. Evan Smithers had picked out Kenny Cunningham on the left and the winger waltzed into the box right up to the end line before slicing the ball across the goal line. There was some frantic stuff going on before Hannon seized his opportunity and shot over the line for the equaliser. What a great time to score you would think but the drama wasn’t over yet as Galway grabbed another for themselves almost on the stroke of half time when Quinlivan punished the Hoops for a defensive error to make it 3-2.
Advantage Galway so going in at half time.
McEntee was proving to be a handful for the Galway defence. The big lad, whose previous appearances for the Hoops have been in defence, made several runs into the box in the early stages of the second half. He claimed he should have had a corner in the 49th minute but his appeal was turned down. Quinlivan Keane had a decent opportunity in the 56th minute to put the visitors further ahead but his shot from a wide angle was saved well by Geraghty. That was a crucial moment for the Hoops for they might not have come back had they conceded again.
There was to be another goal and it went to the Hoops after Fitzharris delivered a cool pass to McEntee, the big lad travelled further in on goal before striking it past the advancing Greaney to make it 3-3. Both sides had chances after that but on the face of it a draw was a fair result in the end. Rovers might feel they had the better of it in the closing period but Galway will feel disappointed they had the lead twice and let it slip.
Rovers: 1. Kalvin Geraghty; 10. Jordan Tallon; 4. Andy Spain, 5. Adam O’Connor, 2. Conor Fitzharris; 23. Lee McEntee, 15. Conor Behan, 16. Thomas Hannon, 8. Evan Smithers, 11. Kenny Cunningham; 9. Dean Williams. Substitutes: 25. Gavin Bazunu, 19. James Clarke (Smithers 60m), 6. Jack Priestly, 18. Dan Howlin (McEntee 76m).
Match report and photos (here) by Robert Goggins.