Galway United improved to seven wins from their opening seven games as they
defeated Athlone Town 3-1 at the Athlone Town Stadium on Friday night.
The Tribesmen battled back to pick up all three points thanks to a David Hurley brace either side of half time and a Stephen Walsh goal to seal it after falling behind for the first time this season as Frantz Pierrot had put the home side in front. Athlone Town kicked off the game after a very well respected minutes silence for the late Joe Horgan. Athlone started on the front foot with an attack down the right which led to Campion-Hinds having a shot blocked out for a corner in the opening 2 minutes. United grew into the game and after 10 minutes some good play between Stephen Walsh and David Hurley looked to force a corner for the visitors, but a goal kick was signalled by the officials.
Galway sustained their pressure as Ronan Manning began creating opportunities down the left, linking up well with Hurley and Vincent Borden respectively throughout the opening 15 minutes. With 18 minutes on the clock, Conor O’Keeffe whipped in a free kick from a central area which was cleared only as far as Hurley on the edge of the box, but his right-footed volley was struck just wide of the post. Moments later, Athlone thought they had the opener after Pierrot struck into the top corner, but Athlone’s number 9 had already been penalised for handball. After some positive play which saw United shift the ball from right to left, Manning won a corner for United. The subsequent corner was met by O’Keeffe whose header was tipped onto the crossbar by Enda Minogue in the Athlone goal. On the 30-minute mark United hit the crossbar again in unusual circumstances as Athlone struggled to deal with a cross from the left which resulted in the hosts hitting the frame of their own goal after an attempted clearance from Noah van Geenen.
The drama continued as the Tribesmen’s pressure paid off when they won a penalty after Borden was fouled inside the box following a cross from the left. Hurley stepped up but his penalty was well saved by Minogue which sprung an Athlone counter-attack. Campion-Hinds drove down the left and picked out Pierrot who struck past Clarke to put Athlone ahead after 34 minutes. United weren’t discouraged however as the visitors equalised just 4 minutes later. Hurley rose highest to meet Colm Horgan’s cross from the right, and his glancing header found the bottom corner off the inside of the post.
The sides went in level at the break at 1-1, with United closing the half on top after the equaliser seemed to take the wind out of Athlone’s sails. The Tribesmen started the second half as they finished the first and came close to taking the lead as with 52 minutes on the clock some good attacking pressure on the Athlone defence led to an error which saw Hurley in on goal, but his effort struck the crossbar. United took the lead just before the hour mark as Hurley cut inside from the left and beautifully curled a right-footed effort past Minogue and into the far bottom corner. With Galway having come from behind, Athlone began to press and looked to find an equaliser of their own.
The hosts mounted attacks from the left through Campion-Hinds in particular, but their period of pressure was well defended by the resolute United defence. Having defended this period of Athlone pressure, United doubled their lead 15 minutes from time. Stephen Walsh was played in behind and slotted home a composed left footed finish at Minogue’s near post to give United a two-goal cushion and send the vocal travelling support into raptures. Athlone again attempted to claw their way back into the game but failed to trouble Brendan Clarke in the United goal until the 88 th minute when Pierrot directed a header towards the top corner, forcing a great save from Galway’s number 1. The Tribesmen saw out the game to secure a massive three points on the road and showed their resilience to win despite having gone behind for the first time this campaign.
David Hurley spoke post-match about the performance as well as the importance of the Galway United supporters; home and away this season:
The lads showed good character and got back into the game’
‘Happy at the end of the day, especially to get the win, get the goals, and move on to next
‘It’s a brilliant atmosphere and it really drives you on as a player’
Manager John Caulfield gave his thoughts after the full-time whistle:
We knew Athlone would be very dangerous, so overall we are very happy with the win’
‘We are getting wins and the supporters are a massive part of that’
Athlone Town: E. Minogue, O. Duffy (C. Mutawe), N. van Geenen, G. Rodriguez, H. Abdikadir, P. Hickey, A. Connolly, A. Lennon, V. Dolia, J. Campion-Hinds, F. Pierrot.
Galway United: B. Clarke, C. Horgan (M. Nugent 78’), R. Slevin, K. Brouder, C. O’Keeffe,E. McCarthy (D. Clarke 78’), C. McCormack, V. Borden, R. Manning (F. Lomboto 78’), D. Hurley (M. Rowe 84’), S. Walsh (I. Keita 84’).