United returned to Eamonn Deacy Park for an important league game against Shamrock Rovers II, and they were buoyed by a fantastic 3-0 success away to UCD last week, where they ruthlessly dispatched the college outfit with a dominant second half performance.
John Caulfield unsurprisingly named the same eleven that trounced the students. The Tribesmen looked to put three league wins together for the first time since late last season when they beat Cabinteely, Cobh Ramblers and Limerick FC.
United started lethargically, allowing the Dublin outfit far too much time and space on the ball. Rovers had an early chance when Kevin Zefi cut in from the left flank and the young winger drilled a powerful shot into the side netting.
Then Marc Ludden gave possession away to Brandon Kavanagh, who drove at goal before letting fly from long range, which forced Kevin Horgan to make a smart save.
Minutes later United were let off the hook again. Conor Barry gave away a free kick for a foul on Kevin Zefi on the edge of the box. Brandon Kavanagh took it and he went close with a powerful shot, but it just cleared the crossbar.
Out of nowhere, John Caulfield’s side took the lead against the run of play with an absolute wonder strike from captain Shane Duggan. Kian Clarke hit a wayward clearance towards the centre of the park, which fell to the former Limerick FC man.
Duggan chested the ball down before smashing it on the half volley from 35 yards and his thunderbolt of a shot went in off the upright.
The goal gave United a new lease of life. Mikey Place forced Kian Clarke into a save after a nice intricate move. Jack Lynch then went close with a header from Shane Duggan’s deep corner, his effort just went over the crossbar.
There was a huge shout for a United penalty in the 36th minute. Shane Doherty broke through down the left flank, he squared the ball to Conor Barry, but he missed and it fell to Mikey Place, who fired goalward and it looked like his shot was stopped with a clear handball in the box, but referee Micheal Connolly waved play on.
The half time break didn’t seem to spur United on and Shamrock Rovers picked up where they left off in the first half with some nice intricate play and keeping good possession of the ball.
The visitors made the Tribesmen pay for their lethargy in the 69th minute when Micheal Leddy tapped home a Sean Brennan cross with Kevin Zefi instrumental in the move, punishing some sloppy play in the United midfield.
Rovers II weren’t settling for a draw and they had another chance from a corner when Sean Callan rose well, but headed straight at Kevin Horgan.
John Caulfield made a double substitution, bringing on Vinny Faherty and Carlton Ubaezuonu. The latter made a very positive impact, with some lively moves down the left flank, causing problems for the Rovers defence.
It looked like he was going to be the difference maker in the game when the ball fell to him about 10 yards out, but on Ubaezuonu’s weaker right foot, he snatched at it and fired over the crossbar.
That miss felt like it was going to be critical to United’s chances of winning the game, but deep into injury time, the hosts grabbed the three points with a late, late winner.
Marc Ludden launched a massive long throw into the centre of the box and the ball landed perfectly for Kevin Farragher to head backwards into the bottom corner of Kian Clarke’s goal, leaving the young goalkeeper with no chance and sparking jubilant scenes on the sideline with the rest of the United squad.
John Caulfield will have been delighted with the three points, but he will know a big improvement will be required in performance for the visit of Wexford FC to Eamonn Deacy Park.
Galway United: Horgan, Lynch, Ludden, Brouder, Farragher, Duggan (Faherty 75), Warde (Nugent 61), Barry (Christopher 61), Place, Doherty (Ubaezuonu 75), Curran (Molloy 61)
Shamrocks Rovers II: Clarke, Bolger, Callan, Kavanagh (Brennan 65), Omorehiomwan, Wells, Ryan (Dunne 65), Murphy, McMenamy, Leddy (Emakhu 83), Zefi
Referee: Michael Connolly