Shamrock Rovers made to work to get past John Caulfield’s Galway in FAI Cup

Rory Gaffney scored against his hometown club to send Shamrock Rovers on their way to the second round of the FAI Cup with a 2-0 win over Galway United.
Shamrock Rovers made to work to get past John Caulfield’s Galway in FAI Cup

Shamrock Rovers’ Rory Gaffney scores the first goal of the FAI Cup clash. Picture: INPHO/Ryan Byrne

Shamrock Rovers 2 Galway United 0

Rory Gaffney scored against his hometown club to send Shamrock Rovers on their way to the second round of the FAI Cup with a 2-0 win over Galway United.

Dylan Watts was also on target as the Hoops netted twice in five first-half minutes, but they had to work for the win as the visitors laid on a barrage of pressure in the second half.

Alan Mannus pulled off outstanding saves from Caoilfhionn O’Dea and Padraic Cunningham, while Ruairi Keating struck the post as the First Division team gave themselves a chance late on.

John Caulfield’s side came into the game on a run of six games unbeaten, including five wins, and looked far from cowed by their illustrious opponents.

The Tribesmen had marginally the better of the opening exchanges and, though debutant Alex Murphy saw yellow for a late tackle on Graham Burke, they produced the first chance on goal.

Gary Boylan floated in a free kick from the left-hand side and it was met by the head of centre-half Maurice Nugent, but it bounced comfortably into the hands of Mannus.

The greater quality possessed by the home side was in evidence moments later, however, as they took the lead with their first chance.

Richie Towell picked up the ball on the right-hand touchline and curled in a perfect cross behind the Galway defence, and Gaffney beat keeper Conor Kearns to nudge the ball into an empty net.

Gaffney was at the heart of the second just moments later as he picked out Sean Gannon on the overlap and his pull-back was steered into the far corner by the late-arriving Watts.

The Hoops were dominant but unable to create anything clear-cut, with both Burke and Lee Grace unable to find the target with half-chances.

They very nearly produced a duplicate of the second goal early in the second half, however, as Gannon picked out Towell and this time the midfielder’s half-volley grazed the edge of the post.

Galway controlled the rest of the game and O’Dea, who replaced Murphy in the first half, forced Mannus into a fine fingertip save as his daisy-cutter looked destined for the bottom corner.

There was nothing Mannus could do as a raking crossfield ball from Mikey Place found Keating and he cut inside before curling a shot off the base of the far post.

The former Northern Ireland international was in top form again moments later as sub Cunningham wriggled free in the box and shot, only for the keeper to claw the ball out of the top corner.

Rovers introduced defenders Liam Scales and Max Murphy to close the game out and, though Galway continued to probe, they couldn’t find a finish to set up a grandstand conclusion.

SHAMROCK ROVERS: Mannus; O’Brien (Scales 62), Lopes, Grace; Gannon, O’Neill, Watts, Kavanagh (Murphy 79); Burke, Towell (Noonan 72), Gaffney (Greene 72).

GALWAY UTD: Kearns; Horgan, Nugent, Walsh, Gorman; Rowe (Cunningham 72), Boylan, Murphy (O’Dea 31); Place (Kelly 81), Keating, Waweru (Oluwa 46).

Referee: Rob Hennessy (Clare).

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