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Shamrock Rovers see off Galway in the FAI Cup

Rory Gaffney scored one goal and created another.

Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Shamrock Rovers 2 

Galway United 0 

Dave Donnelly reports from Tallaght Stadium 

RORY GAFFNEY SCORED one and helped create a second to condemn his hometown club to a 2-0 FAI Cup first round defeat at Tallaght Stadium on Friday evening.

The Tuam native continued his inspired first half to the season as he notched his ninth goal of the season early on before Dylan Watts doubled the lead four minutes later.

Galway recovered from the double concession to put it up fully to the champions and John Caulfield’s charges will take heart from their performance as they continue to seek promotion.

The Tribesmen found Hoops keeper Alan Mannus, donning a freshly-shaven head for the first time, in inspired form, while Ruairi Keating also hit the post as Galway chased the game.

Both managers opted to make changes, with Stephen Bradley handing Sean Kavanagh and Watts rare starts, while teenager Alex Murphy made his debut in midfield for the visitors.

The home sides’ greater resources in reserve ensured they were able to build up a quick two-goal lead despite a slow start on a balmy evening at the foot of the Dublin mountains.

Galway had gone close early on as Maurice Nugent got his head to a Gary Boylan free kick, but he couldn’t generate the power to unduly trouble Mannus.

Rovers, by contrast, took the lead with their first meaningful attack and that extra bit of top-level quality was in evidence as Richie Towell put it on a plate for Gaffney.

The multiple title-winner, a new arrival from Salford City, curled in a delightful ball from wide on the right out of reach of the Galway defenders and Gaffney was able to nudge it past Conor Kearns.

Four minutes later, it was 2-0 as Gaffney released Sean Gannon on the right and his cutback found Watts arriving late to steer the ball coolly into the corner past a helpless Kearns.

Despite controlling the rest of the half, Rovers never looked pushed to add to their lead, although Lee Grace’s speculative long-range effort at least demonstrated a hunger for more.

They should have added a third with four minutes of the resumption, though, as Gaffney again found Gannon out wide.

His cross found the delayed run of Towell into the box and a carbon copy of the second goal looked on the cards, but the midfielder’s volley grazed the side of the post.

Galway took their warning seriously and soon began to control proceedings themselves, and substitute Caoilfhionn O’Dea was desperately unlucky not to halve the deficit.

O’Dea had replaced the already-booked Murphy in the first half and he produced a star performance, and Mannus had to be at his best to push away his goal-bound daisy-cutter.

Mannus could get nowhere near Keating’s effort shortly afterwards, Mikey Place having picked the striker out with a wonderful diagonal pass, but this time the post intervened.

And another sub, Padraic Cunningham, was soon denied by the in-form Mannus as he twisted into space to aim a left-footed shot goalwards, but the keeper was more than equal to it.

That proved to be it for the visitors, who continued to probe but found a Rovers side content to play keep-ball, and it will be the Hoops’ name in the draw on Monday afternoon.

Shamrock Rovers: Alan Mannus; Joey O’Brien (Liam Scales 62), Roberto Lopes, Lee Grace; Sean Gannon, Gary O’Neill, Dylan Watts, Sean Kavanagh (Max Murphy 79); Graham Burke, Richie Towell (Conan Noonan 72), Rory Gaffney (Aaron Greene 72).

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Galway United: Conor Kearns; Christopher Horgan, Maurice Nugent, Stephen Walsh, Joe Gorman;, Mikie Rowe (Padraic Cunningham 72), Gary Boylan, Alex Murphy (Caoilfhionn O’Dea 31); Mikey Place (Colin Kelly 81), Ruairi Keating, Wilson Waweru (Thomas Oluwa 46).

Referee: Rob Hennessy (Clare).

FAI Cup First Round results 

Saint Patrick’s Athletic 6-0 Bray Wanderers 

UCD 2-0 Shelbourne 

Wexford 3-0 Cabinteely 

Maynooth University 4-0 Malahide 

Shamrock Rovers 2-0 Galway United 

St Kevin’s Boys 1-4 Kilnamanagh 

Athlone 4-4 Waterford (Waterford won 4-2 on penalties)

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