Shamrock Rovers 3-1 Galway United
The competitiveness in this league was again demonstrated at Tallaght Stadium this afternoon as Shamrock Rovers and Galway United dished up an exciting encounter that earned the appreciation of those in attendance.
It was first v second in a ‘six-pointer’ game and one the lads from the West had to win if they were going to keep their hopes alive of winning the Southern Section. This result means that Stephen Rice’s lads need just one more win to clinch the title. As they have four games remaining it is difficult to see what can stop them from achieving that success.
They gave themselves a brilliant start today when James Clarke converted from the spot to give them an early lead. Jordan Tallon had put Clarke in and the unfortunate Galway ‘keeper Sam O’Gorman took Clarke out of it while attempting to effect a save.
Shane O’Rourke, in between the posts at the other end, was kept on his toes and had to be alert to make a save in the 14th minute when Colin Kelly passed to Ben Molloy and the latter took aim.
The dream start for the Hoops got another boost in the 19th minute after Thomas Oluwa, Jack Kelly and Danila Bogdanov swamped the Galway goal area with Oluwa driving low for Bogdanov to finish into the net.
The visitors got themselves back into the game very quickly though and within five minutes they reduced the arrears after they were awarded a penalty for a foul on captain Donal Higgins and Kelly despatched from the spot to make the score 2-1 with just 24 minutes on the clock having been played.
One of the highlights during the play that followed over the next fifteen minutes was a superb challenge by James Furlong on Kelly after the Galway forward had connected with a long ball played down field during a rapid counter attack. Jack Kelly for Rovers and then Bogdanov both saw chances go wide before Bogdanov was lifted out of it in a midfield challenge but the referee allowed the advantage to be played and Jack Kelly went agonisingly close with a strike that flew just past the post.
The start of the second half saw Galway United go all out for an early equaliser. They won two corners within the first three minutes. The first saw Iarlaith O’Sullivan move the ball quickly to Oleg Vysochan and a tremendous save from O’Rourke to deal with a close-range effort. O’Sullivan then went close from the second corner with an effort from a header.
The Hoops responded well to this renewed threat and what followed was end to end drama with Toby Owens setting Jack Kelly up for a shot that went to O’Gorman’s outstretched arms.
Colin Kelly drove wide at the other end for the lads in maroon and within two minutes Tallon couldn’t keep his effort down from a free kick for Rovers.
One minute later and Bogdanov drove wide for the Hoops and Vysochan put his effort for Galway over the bar. Oluwa combined with Bogdanov in a swift attack and the big Hoops’ striker could only look on as his effort was deflected for a corner. All of this within the first ten minutes of the restart!
The early drama wasn’t over either with Colin Kelly teeing up a shot in front of the Rovers’ posts only to be denied by Owens who took the ball off his foot.
The insurance goal for the Hoops came in the 60th minute when James Clarke played a cracking ball in the centre to Oluwa who managed to stay onside and then beat the defender before slotting the ball to his right using his left foot and it travelled exactly to where he wanted it to make it 3-1.
A Martins Olakanye strike in the 67th minute was saved by O’Gorman and when Bogdanov quickly followed in for the ball the Galway ‘keeper managed to recover quickly to avert disaster for his team. Galway counter attacked and Dara Costelloe forced O’Rourke to get down low to save.
The ever-impressive Colin Kelly displayed some nice skills in a crowded box in the 77th minute but was matched by some cool defending from Andy Spain who put in a neat tackle to concede a corner.
Galway ‘keeper Sam O’Gorman reacted quickly in the 80th minute when Bogdanov crossed high for substitute Shane Nealon who turned and attempted a quick effort but was denied by the ‘keeper who somehow or other managed to block the ball at close range with his body.
Shamrock Rovers: 25. Shane O’Rourke, 2. Martins Olakanye, 4. Andrew Spain, 5. Cian Kelly, 9. Danila Bogdanov, 10. James Clarke, 11. Jack Kelly, 16. Thomas Oluwa, 17. Jordan Tallon, 19. Toby Owens, 20. James Furlong.
Substitutes: 3. Alex Dunne (for Oluwa 62 mins), 6. Conor Behan (for Clarke 70 mins), 7. Dean McMenemy (for Bogdanov 82 mins), 14. Emmanuel Odeniyi (for Olakanye 88 mins), 23. Shane Nealon (for Jack Kelly 70 mins).
Report and photos by Robert Goggins