Galway draw first blood

First Division play-off: Galway FC 2 Shelbourne 0

Galway FC are in the driving seat in the First Division play-off as goals in either half by Ryan Connolly and Gary Shanahan in Eamonn Deacy Park last night saw them beat Shelbourne at home for the first time in three games this season.

The greasy surface suited the passing game, but it was a pass from a Shels player that had the visitors in trouble in the 19th minute. Philip Hand left his backpass to Nathan Murphy yards short, allowing Shanahan to win possession.

The Galway winger was taken down in the box by Murphy, who despite being last man, was only shown a yellow card by referee Ray Matthews. Connolly exacted the maximum punishment though, stroking his penalty down the centre of the goal as Murphy dived to his left.

It had been a cagey opening 20 minutes, but once they hit the front, the home side moved up through the gears and pinned Shels in their own half, but couldn’t extend their lead.

Connolly and Ryan Manning had the best of the chances, both fizzing shots wide, and Shels had to wait until the 45th minute for their first effort on target, Dylan Connolly letting fly from 25 yards, but Conor Gleeson went full-stretch to deny him.

The visitors played with the elements at their back in the second half, and they dominated the early stages as the home side struggled to get out of their own half.

Conor Murphy and Hand both had shots from distance, and while neither forced Gleeson into a save, it was better from Johnny McDonnell’s side.

The home side soon got to grips with the conditions, and Paddy Barrett thought he had extended their lead when meeting Connolly’s corner in the 67th minute, but while Murphy was beaten, Hand was in the right place to hack his effort off the line.

The Shels defence was finally unlocked again five minutes from time, when Irish U19 international Manning made ground down the left before linking with Connolly.

He drilled a ball into the box, and Shanahan timed his run to the near post to perfection, to sidefoot home to give his side a two-goal lead heading into next Friday’s second-leg in Tolka Park.

GALWAY FC (4-2-3-1): Gleeson; Horgan, Walsh, Barrett, Ludden; Sinnott, Byrne; Shanahan, Connolly, Manning; Keegan (Faherty 82).

SHELBOURNE (4-3-3): N Murphy; O’Connor, Desmond, Hand; Dempsey, McDonagh, Donnelly (Duffy 85); Connolly, C Murphy, Keegan (Russell 68).

Referee: Ray Matthews.


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