GREAT WIN Ruairi Keating
GALWAY United taught the students of UCD a harsh lesson on Friday night with a 4-1 thumping in what was effectively the battle for second-place in the Airtricity First Division. The hosts were driven on by a huge crowd at Eamonn Deacy Park and dominated the match from start to finish. They out-muscled UCD all over the pitch, despite the absence of influential captain, the suspended Conor McCormack.
The match uniquely featured four Mayo men, which is a testament to the underage development of players in this county.
For the victors, Gary Boylan played underage in Mayo right up to 17 before his departure for Sligo Rovers. Ruairi Keating played his underage football with Westport United.
For the students, Paul Doyle played underage for Fahy Rovers and Westport United while Harvey O’Brien played his underage football with Claremorris.
This on a night when several other ex-Mayo underage league players played in the League of Ireland. This explosion of Mayo talent on the national stage, can, in my view, be traced back to Mayo League decision to switch to summer football in the mid-1990s.
These and other young players developed their skills on mainly dry and fast pitches, where the emphasis was on skill and speed as opposed to the heavier winter pitches which often became endurance tests.
Harvey O’Brien’s debut season in the League will reach another milestone in the next week or so when he serves his first suspension. He picked up his fifth yellow card of the campaign on Friday night.
“It was a great win,” Ruairi Keating told The Mayo News after the match. “It was probably one of our best performances of the season. “We took complete control of the game from start to finish, they never really threatened us at all. We were just too strong for them on the day.”
Galway seem to have cemented second place in the division, behind Shelbourne who will go up automatically. The remaining four teams – currently Galway, UCD, Treaty United and Bray — will play off with one of them going into a final promotion/relegation play-off with the team that finished second from bottom in the Premier Division.
As it stands that team is Dundalk, who are one point behind Waterford.
“We want to finish off the season as strong as we can, now, as we have mathematically secured a play-off place,” explained Ruairi. “Our aim is promotion. We won’t take much heed of who we have to play. We’ll focus on ourselves and if we play like we did against UCD – play at our best – we can beat anybody.”
In the Premier Division, Sligo Rovers surprisingly lost 4-1 away at Dundalk.
As if anyone needed reminding, football can be harsh sometimes.
A Nahum Melvin-Lambert 93rd minute own goal at Richmond Park put Shamrock Rovers nine clear of their St Patrick’s Athletic at the top of the Airtricity Premier Division on Friday night. Rovers’ grip on the title seems unbreakable now, even with eight games left. Sligo Rovers sit third fourteen off top spot with Derry in fourth – three behind Sligo.