GOAL THREAT Galway United’s Ruairi Keating. Pic: John Corless
NIL-NIL is a dangerous lead to take into the second-leg of any cup-tie or play-off as Galway United discovered on Sunday night. Of course nil-nil isn’t a lead at all, but it must have felt like a lead to the Tribesmen after getting a draw in the first leg of their First Division play-off in Bray on Wednesday. Especially with a capacity crowd expected for the second-leg back at Eamonn Deacy Park, their respective league positions, (Galway second and Bray fifth,) and their favourite’s tag and all that.
Sometimes a full house isn’t the help it seems. Coming into the tie with a small travelling support, Bray had little to lose. Galway on the other hand, with a stadium packed with maroon-waving fans, and having recently contracted manager John Caulfield for another two years (backed by financial support of the Comer Brothers) they were expected to win; if not handily, at least in some way.
Defeat was not on the menu.
But football isn’t about reputations or expectations. It’s about results.
And 21 year-old Brandon Kavanagh, a loanee from Shamrock Rovers, scored a superb goal after 21 minutes to claim the tie for the visitors. It was a finish worthy of a win and a now puts the Seagulls in a final against the students of University College Dublin.
For Galway it’s deja vous, having lost the 2020 play-off final 366 days previously to Longford Town on a 2-1 scoreline. Galway had beaten Bray in the semi-final thanks to a Wilson Waweru strike with three minutes left.
Maybe it will be third-time lucky for Galway next year?
Galway will again be favourites to win automatic promotion in 2022.
They might have managed that this year if their new team and gelled earlier. It was July before they hit their stride. They will need a reliable finisher, however. Westport man Ruairi Keating hit seven this season, but he tends to drift out the wing a lot. Headford’s Padraic Cunningham, a traditional centre-forward, was used as a substitute this season; it seems Caulfield doesn’t believe he is the man.
Wilson Waweru (20) is a good attacking player, but it is he who is usually called ashore to make way for Cunningham.
UCD are through to play Bray in the final after getting the better of Treaty United on a 4-2 aggregate score. It looked a done deal on Wednesday night when the students ran out 3-0 winners in Limerick, but Treaty are a remarkable side.
Enjoying their first season in football, Treaty went 2-0 up at the UCD Bowl on Sunday evening before the students put the tie beyond the spirited Limerick side with a crucial Adam Verdon goal with twenty minutes remaining.
In the Premier, Sligo Rovers secured European Football for next year with an impressive 3-0 away win over St Patrick’s Athletic.