With two minutes left, United seemed to get the reward for their wonderful display when they, and all 878 people in the ground, thought they had a penalty.
Mick Devine had spilled the ball under an aerial challenge from Dave Goldbey and then took the striker down as he was about to roll the ball into an empty net.
Galway were the better side from the first whistle to the last, their heart personified in Billy Cleary and Sean Fortune, who were both immense.
When John O’Flynn was mercilessly hacked down straight from kick-off, you feared for the home side, as if this match was going to be a simple illustration of the 21 eircom league places that separate the two sides at present. Instead, we got a cup tie-and should have had a giant-killing.
There was a listlessness to the Leesiders that hasn’t been evident all season. Perhaps, it was the departure of Kevin Doyle, and his paltry transfer fee. Whatever the reason, City were disjointed and disorganised in the first half, mustering just two real goal-scoring opportunities, through Roy O’Donovan and Neale Fenn.
The hustle and bustle of cup football is hardly suited to George O’Callaghan’s languid style, but he still had chances. In the 50th minute, a neat give-and-go with Fenn opened up a path to goal but Nigel Keady did superbly in blocking the shot.
Galway almost snatched victory on numerous occasions. In the 75th minute, Cleary cleverly hooked the ball goalward after a corner was not cleared, but Alan Bennett was on the line to hook the ball to safety.
Cleary actually had the ball in the net in the 34th minute, but it was ruled out for an earlier infringement.
Cleary got booked for his protestations and spent the rest of the first half dicing with danger, as he constantly complained to referee Dave McKeon.
City couldn’t break United down. United’s policy of containment served them well for the entire game, even in the 20 minutes after the interval, the only spell City looked like league leaders.
United had the chances to break the deadlock, especially in the first half. Colin O’Brien’s attempted clearance of Galway’s first corner, in the 14th minute, might have ended up anywhere. Fortunately for the City midfielder, it flicked past the post and out for another corner.
Six minutes later, Mick Devine had to be alert as Dave Goldbey sprinted after a stray back-pass. The City keeper won the race, but only just.
The best chance also fell to Goldbey after 32 minutes. Ryan Casey whipped a terrific cross into the City box and from six yards out, Goldbey headed over the bar. Devine also had to be on hand to tip David O’Dowd’s 25-yard screamer over the bar in the 36th minute.
City will be delighted to get a replay out of this, after the drama that would follow moments before the end.
: Devine; Horgan, Bennett, Murray, Woods; Gamble, Fenn (O’Halloran 82 mins), O’Brien (Murphy 33 mins), O’Donovan, O’Callaghan, O’Flynn.
: Gough; Frawley, Cleary, Keady, Reilly; Harty, O’Brien, Fortune, Casey, O’Dowd, Goldbey.
: D McKeon (Dublin).