Galway United’s hectic schedule finally caught up with them at United Park on Friday evening as the Tribemen succumbed to an organised and hungry Drogheda United side.
Some Galway United players have played over 300 minutes of football in the last week and mental and physical fatigue was evident in their performance in the North East.
Tommy Dunne only made two changes to the side that required extra-time to overcome Bohemians at Eamonn Deacy Park on Monday night. Enda Curran returned to partner Padraic Cunningham upfront while Alex Byrne dropped to the bench in place of David O’Leary.
It was the home side who started the brighter at United Park. Lee Duffy, who was operating as a lone striker, ghosted in behind Stephen Walsh but he dragged his volley wide of the post.
In the 16th minute, Sean Thornton’s in-swinging corner-kick caused havoc in the Galway United 6-yard box but eventually the danger was cleared.
Duffy was playing off the shoulder of Stephen Walsh and Paul Sinnott and he beat the offside trap again in the 20th minute to setup Sean Brennan, but the former didn’t test Conor Winn with his wayward shot.
Galway United top scorer Enda Curran rifled in a free kick from 25 yards but Drogheda United goalkeeper Michael Schlingermann gathered comfortably.
Curran’s strike-partner Padraic Cunningham was the next player to test Schlingermann, when he out-muscled a Drogheda defender to steal a march on goal but Schlingermann rushed from his goal to smother the danger and then Enda Curran skied the rebound over the crossbar.
Johnny McDonnell’s side broke the deadlock in the 32nd minute. Duffy had threatened the Tribesmen with his movement in behind and he capitalised on a missed clearance before rounding Conor Winn and rolling the ball into the unguarded net.
The Boynesiders lead was almost doubled a moment later when Sean Thornton’s curled free kick smacked off the woodwork.
Five minutes into the second half, Ryan Connolly’s corner kick broke to Enda Curran in the box but he couldn’t direct his shot on target.
The home side continued to create chances and defender Michael Daly perhaps could have done better when Sean Thornton picked him out with a free kick but he headed over.
From some further lax defending from Galway United, Drogheda grabbed a second goal. Lee Duffy was allowed time and space to drive at goal before shooting, his shot was well-saved by Winn but Sean Thornton was on hand to volley the rebound home from close range.
Galway United’s last chance fell to Gary Shanahan, the winger was played in at the back post but he side-footed wide when squaring the ball looked like a better option.
Next week, Galway United’s attentions turn to the Irish Daily Mail FAI Cup when the club hosts North End United at Eamonn Deacy Park on Friday night. Kick-off: 7.45pm.
REFEREE: Ben Connolly
DROGHEDA UNITED (4-5-1): Schlingermann; Daly, O’Reilly, Byrne, Gorman; Whelan (Kavanagh 75), Thornton, Brennan (Maher 83), Hughes, Marks (Walshe 84); Duffy
UNUSED SUBSTITUTES: Connolly (GK), Buckley, Mulvenna, Reilly
SCORERS: Duffy 32, 69
BOOKINGS: Hughes 55, Thornton 55
GALWAY UNITED (4-4-2): Winn; Raftery (Ludden 41), Sinnott, Walsh, Horgan; Shanahan, O’Leary, Connolly, Keegan; Curran (Byrne 77), Cunningham (Molloy 70)
UNUSED SUBSTITUTES: Gleeson (GK), Oji, Barry, Cantwell
BOOKINGS: Raftery 31, Sinnott 42, Horgan 86
ATTENDANCE (ESTIMATE): 600