Alan Murphy got his tenure as Galway United manager underway with a 4-1 win against Athlone Town at Eamonn Deacy Park.
The badly needed win, which was United’s first in six league outings, could’ve had an even more flattering scoreline if it wasn’t for the heroics of Athlone Town goalkeeper Darcy Lawless.
In team news, Alan Murphy handed a league debut to Adam Rooney at the heart of United’s defence, Conor Layng was recalled to partner Eoin McCormack in attack and Alex Byrne returned following suspension.
United started with noticeable impetus and a high tempo and probably should’ve been one up after just a minute when Ryan Connolly pulled a shot wide after some inventive build-up play by Eoin McCormack.
Athlone survived another scare when Ger Smith hacked Carlton Ubaezuonu’s goal-bound effort off the line, following some slack defending from the Midlanders.
Ubaezuonu then showed a clean pair of heels to an Athlone defender before driving towards the box, the winger’s powerful drive forced Danny Lawless to push the ball out for a corner.
Some intricate build-up play between Conor Barry, Alex Byrne and Eoin McCormack ended with skipper Ryan Connolly going close once again, but his effort ended up on the wrong side of the post.
Athlone’s first opportunity came when Brian Cabraley dragged the ball past Gary Shanahan and zipped it across the six yard box, but Tze Mustapha, who was stretching to get a foot to the cross, was just out of reach.
Alan Murphy’s side continued to dominate possession and created chance after chance, next to try their luck was Eoin McCormack, after he was picked out by Ryan Connolly, but the Ballinasloe man curled his shot wide of the post.
United’s pressure finally told in the 20th minute when Conor Barry evaded Ciaran Grogan’s challenge before unleashing an unstoppable drive from 25 yards that left Lawless stranded.
Barry could’ve doubled United’s lead just a minute later when he got a head to Gary Shanahan’s cross, but he glanced the ball wide.
Athlone goalkeeper Darcy Lawless was then forced into another excellent save, fully extended, to deny Carlton Ubaezuonu, who flashed a header goal-ward following a long throw from Marc Ludden.
Lawless denied United once again with another smashing save. Ubaezuonu showed great foot-work in the box before picking his spot and almost passing the ball into the far corner, through the legs of an Athlone player. The ball looked destined for the corner of the net, but Lawless got down to make the save.
United got an important second goal right on the stroke of half time. Ryan Connolly’s in-swinging free-kick was not dealt with by Athlone and Carlton Ubaezuonu pounced to roll the loose ball into the back of the net.
Two minutes into the second half, Athlone were awarded a penalty when Gary Shanahan pulled down an Athlone attacker. Club captain Steven Grogan stepped up to take the penalty, but he blazed it over the upright.
Former Athlone Town player Conor Layng went within inches of adding a third goal for United when he headed against the foot of the post.
Darcy Lawless was kept busy in the second half and Conor Barry’s low drive forced the young ‘keeper to palm the ball out for a corner.
Steven Grogan was forced into a crucial challenge to block down Eoin McCormack’s low drive in the box after a well-worked quick free-kick was worked into the box by Conor Barry.
A third goal of real quality arrived with ten minute remaining. Marc Ludden swung a ball in from the left and Eoin McCormack met it with a cheeky back-heel, that beat Lawless at his near-post.
More gloss was put on the win when Ronan Manning notched a fourth for United. Carlton Ubaezuono drove down the left before hanging a deep cross to the back-post, Eoin McCormack headed the ball back towards the six yard box and after the ball deflected off the back of Athlone defender Ger Smith, Manning slotted home into the bottom corner.
Athlone pulled a consolation back in injury time when Ian Fletcher squared to Nika Kalandarishvili, whose shot in a congested penalty area deflected off Alex Byrne en-route to the back of the net.
Galway United: Ryan; Shanahan (Horgan 89), Rooney, Walsh, Ludden; Barry (Waweru 92), Byrne, Connolly, Ubaezuonu; Layng (Manning 78), McCormack
Athlone Town: Lawless, Smith, Hogan (Burns 45), S. Grogan, Cabraley (Mukete 45), Kalandarishvili, Issaka, Oguntola (Brilly 76), Fletcher, C. Grogan, Mustapha
Referee: Eoghan O’Shea
PHOTOS BY Sean’s Sport Photo – www.sportsphoto.ie