Paul Corcoran reports from Eamonn Deacy Park
Drogheda United gained ground on the top of the First Division table as a thumping Sean Brennan free-kick was the difference in their 0-1 win away to Galway United on Friday night.
It was a cagey opening in this one as both sides tried to get their bearings. Nerves could have played a factor with this game potentially having a huge influence on where both these teams end up at the end of the season.
With almost twenty minutes gone Tadhg Ryan made a near fatal mistake when he left his line. The young goalkeeper went up to catch a ball but failed to gain control. The net was left wide open as the ball fell to Jake Hyland and the Drogheda United captain didn’t hesitate as he struck a shot from the edge of the box towards the keeperless net denied only by a great defensive header by Stephen Walsh on the Galway line.
Tadhg Ryan’s catching again worried the home side in the first half when the shot stopper went up to grab a Lee Duffy cross into the box with Drogheda’s Mark Doyle standing up putting him under pressure. The ‘keeper dropped the ball once again but in the split second that Galway hearts stopped Alex Byrne got there to smash the ball into touch.
With a half an hour gone Galway United nearly nicked the lead in this one. Alan Murphy faced the goal as he collected a Ryan Connolly pass. The midfielder was 20 yards from the goal but Galway United’s all-time record goal scorer took the shot on and if only for an excellent stop from Paul Skinner the home side would have been ahead.
Just before the break Marc Ludden played a dangerous ball across the Drogheda box in the direction of Danny Furlong. Conor Kane made it his business to get in between the ball and Furlong and the defender just got there to smash the ball over his goal and away from danger. Minutes later Alan Murphy deftly played a through ball to Furlong, the striker ran on to the ball but Ciaran Kelly just got a tackle in as the striker was about to rifle off his shot.
The sides certainly weren’t playing out a classic. This was a battle to not cede any ground in the race for promotion. Of note was Galway United’s Tadhg Ryan going off injured for Connor Gleeson. Gleeson was called into action almost immediately as he put his body on the line getting inbetween Chris Lyons and the ball to smother his effort.
The game began to pick up in the last thirty minutes, kicked off by a Ryan Connolly effort smashed wide from inside the box after a great long ball in by Alex Byrne.
With just over 70 minutes gone The Boynesiders had a gilt edged chance when Sean Brennan played in Mark Doyle. Doyle caught the defence off guard as he raced towards Connor Gleeson’s goal but the striker couldn’t keep his composure as he faced the goal and his effort went over the cross bar.
The deadlock was finally broken after a silly free was given away by experienced midfielder Alan Murphy. It may have been long distance— but Sean Brennan certainly didn’t mind. Brennan hit a lightning bolt of a shot into the top corner of the goal with Connor Gleeson unable to get across the goal in time to make the stop.
A frantic passage of play ensued in the remaining minutes as Galway tried to claw their way back into this one but the home side couldn’t create any real clear chances as they suffered their first home defeat this season.
Galway United: Tadhg Ryan (Connor Gleeson, 62; Marc Ludden, Robbie Williams, Stephen Walsh, Maurice Nugent; Gary Shanahan, Alex Byrne (Carlton Ubaezuonu, 84), Ryan Connolly, Alan Murphy, Danny Furlong (Conor Barry, 75), Eoin McCormack.
Subs not used: Stephen Kenny, Conor Melody, Conor Layng, Ronan Manning.
Booked: Alex Byrne (26)
Drogheda United: Paul Skinner; Colm Deasy, Conor Kane, Kevin Farragher, Luke Gallagher; Lee Duffy, Sean Brennan, Chris Lyons, Jake Hyland; Mark Doyle, Ciaran Kelly.
Subs not used: Luka Gratzer, Kealon Dillon, Gareth McCaffrey, Lloyd Buckley, Sean Trimble, Richie Purdy, William Hondermarck.
Booked: Colm Deasy (70), Sean Brennan (90), Luke Gallagher (90)
Referee: Adriano Reale
Attendance: 1,000 (estimate)
Extratime.ie Player of the Match: Sean Brennan