After suffering a heavy 3-1 defeat on Monday night in the Setanta Cup, it was no surprise that the final whistle was met with a chorus of boos from a small section of disgruntled City supporters amongst a 4000-plus attendance.
The zest and vigour which greeted the opening of City’s campaign last season is seriously lacking in these early games, and a win when Portadown visit in the Setanta Cup on Tuesday should give Cork’s season a much needed ‘pick-me-up’.
Galway can be pleased with this result and while they defended for long periods they also showed they are capable in attack, especially when Derek O’Brien ran at the Cork defence.
The Cork rearguard was tested as early as the third minute when Shane Tracy’s low cross from the left was met first time by Alan Murphy but Mick Devine reacted well, displaying good reflexes to parry the former Derry City player’s low drive and Dan Murray cleared to safety.
There was little entertainment value in a low-key first half, though the home side always seemed the likelier to break the deadlock. That Galway flooded the midfield with five across the park left little room for Joe Gamble or Colin O’Brien to manufacture an opening, and it remained at the feet of wingers Billy Woods and Liam Kearney to conjure up an opening.
Woods fired in a dangerous in-swinging cross in the 22nd minute which John O’Flynn, making his first start of the season, failed to control. Cork pressed for that breakthrough goal, won a free kick when Gamble was hauled down outside the penalty area, but Murray’s subsequent drilled effort was blocked by the Galway wall.
Tony Cousins’ side were workmanlike and organised, but they committed many players to defensive roles. When they broke it was on the counter and when Alan Murphy took the ball nimbly down the left side of midfield on the half hour mark, he crossed for Derek O’Brien but winger’s shot lacked the requisite power to trouble Mick Devine.
Then Kearney, shadowed relentlessly by Colm James all evening, swung in a threatening cross from the left for O’Flynn, who had taken up a good position in the box, but the latter’s header lacked power.
Cork’s best chance arrived on 41 minutes when the impressive Darragh Ryan curled in a cross that was met by a glancing header by O’Donovan that rolled agonisingly beyond the far post.
Minutes later O’Donovan showed what a danger he can be when allowed to run at defences, in this instance slalomed past three Galway defenders before seeing his effort stopped by the excellent Alan Gough.
A minute from the break the Leesiders had claims for a penalty turned down when O’Donovan challenged for a high ball on the edge of the penalty area but appeared to be bowled over by Gough.
If caution was the key theme of a cagey first forty five minutes, then first fifteen after the interval was replete with poor passing and a lethargic Cork that resorted to play the long ball, a tactic which is anathema to a Damien Richardson side. On 55minutes a long ball from the left by Kearney was chested by Woods into the path of O’Donovan but the latter’s effort was struck high over Gough’s goal.
The arrival of former Cork and Derry City player Stephen O’Flynn up front for Galway gave the westerners’ attack renewed vigour and variation, and with Derek O’Brien also in sprightly form for Galway, Tony Cousins side had every reason to believe they could take something from this match. The introduction of Darren Murphy to Cork’s central midfield sparked the home side into the life with just over fifteen minutes left on the clock.
Murphy’s first real involvement arrived in the 76th minute when he adroitly played in O’Donovan down the right and his superbly drilled cross was dealt with smartly by Galway centre back Regillio Nootimeer.
Four minutes later Murphy got on the end of a volley from the edge of the penalty area but fired wide. Cork probed as the clock ticked down, but Galway, disciplined to the last whistle, kept the Leesiders at bay.
CORK CITY: Devine; Horgan, Kelly, Murray (capt), Ryan; Woods, O’Brien (Murphy 74), Gamble, Kearney (Cillian Lordan 78); O’Donovan and O’Flynn (Behan 74).
GALWAY UTD: Gough; James, Nootimeer, Charles, Tracy; Cooke, Foley, Lester, O’Brien; Murphy (Russell 89); Armstrong (O’Flynn 56).
Referee: R Winter (Dublin)