Galway FC – 1
Waterford United slipped from fourth position to fifth on the league table following this exciting draw at the RSC on Friday night last.
With Wexford Youths beating Cobh Ramblers 2-1 in Ferrycarrig Park the Blues have now been leapfrogged by their South East rivals but it could have been a great deal worse if Kevin O’Connor had not scored a wonder goal ten minutes from full time.
Three minutes before that strike, Paddy Barrett, the Waterford central defender had been sent off so all in all a point from this encounter was a good outcome because the Tribesmen did create the majority of the chances during the course of the 90 minutes.
The build up to the match was surrounded with stories of off the field problems but nevertheless the team only showed two changes from the one which lost to Finn Harps the previous week.
Vinny Sullivan came in for Thomas Croke and Gavin O’Donovan replaced Shaun Corcoran.
Galway took the lead inside the opening four minutes when central defender Paddy Barrett was forced to concede a corner kick out on the left.
Jason Molloy sent the ball into the six-yard box and Martin Conneely headed to the net past a helpless Kevin Burns. Rocked by the conceding of that early goal, the hosts did response to nearly level the contest on 16 minutes when a good move saw Vinny Sullivan set up Conor Whittle, who crossed into the path of Kevin O’Connor but his left-footed shot was just over the crossbar.
O’Connor was in the thick of the action once again less than 60 seconds later when he picked up the ball out the left side of the penalty area but his well struck effort flew just inches wide of the near post guarded by Galway FC goalkeeper Connor Gleeson. Gavin O’Donovan missed a great chance to draw his side level on 31 minutes when Jack Doherty whipped in a free kick from the right but he blazed over the bar.
Blues keeper Kevin Burns was called into action to make the first save of the second half on 55 minutes when Galway striker Jake Keegan got in behind Patrick Fitzgerald after a ball from Paul Sinnott but the netminder got a fine right hand to the ball to keep out his effort from 14 yards.
The Blues were very fortunate not to concede their second goal of the contest on 61 minutes when Paddy Barrett fouled Derek O’Brien out on the left but after Jason Molloy found Stephen Walsh with the resulting free kick, his header came back off the foot of the left post with Burns beaten.
An inspired Blues keeper Kevin Burns kept the Tribesmen at bay with a tremendous save on 77 minutes when he brilliantly kept out an effort from Stephen Walsh as he looked certain to score. Seconds later Blues defender Paddy Barrett picked up his second yellow card for a tug back on Jake Keegan.
With 10 minutes remaining the Blues took full advantage of those missed Galway opportunities as they levelled the tie with a brilliant piece of skill from Kevin O’Connor. The ultra talented midfielder controlled the ball on his chest, took the ball down superbly on the right before lobbing the ball to the back of an empty net from 20 yards with keeper Gleeson off his line.
It was a wonder goal in every sense of the word and it brought a good end to what was a troubled week.
WATERFORD UNITED: Kevin Burns, Conor Whittle, Gavin O’Donovan, Patrick Fitzgerald ( Gary Delaney ‘63), Paddy Barrett, Kevin O’Connor, Vinny Sullivan, Willie John Kiely, Brian Nolan, Jack Doherty (Thomas Croke ‘87),Philip Drohan (Andrew O’Connor ‘67).
GALWAY FC: Conor Gleeson, Colm Horgan, Marc Ludden, Alex Byrne, Martin Conneely, Jason Molloy (Aaron McDonagh ‘83),Derek O’Brien (Gary Shanahan ‘63), Ryan Connolly, Jake Keegan, Stephen Walsh ,Paul Sinnott.
REFEREE:Shane Dunphy (Wexford).