COBH Ramblers' perfect start to the season came to an end with a loss to First Division title rivals Galway United at St Colman’s Park on Friday evening.
Goals from Vincent Broden and Ronan Manning was enough to give John Caulfield’s team the three points and send them five points clear at the top.
In such a big game, Cobh didn’t look the slightest bit dizzy as they adjusted to the heights of the First Division summit. Shane Keegan’s team were organised and this helped nullify a passive Galway unit that dominated the proceedings in east Cork.
They were forced to shoot from distance very early into the game, and one of the first attempts by Ibrahim Keita was blocked by the Cobh defence. When they tried to put something together from a Ronan Manning free, Cobh made sure Killian Brouder didn’t get a touch at the back post and the ball went out for a corner.
Cian Browne marshalled that defence, and kept winning individual duels with Ed McCarthy. The one time the winger did get free, a shot that beat everyone went narrowly out of play. Cobh made sure not to repeat that mistake the next time Galway got into that position as Browne stood firm to put a shot from Stephen Walsh out of play.
The wall was broken by a free-kick that Conor McCormack laid into the path of Broden and he bent the ball around the wall and in.
Cobh didn’t push up immediately from the goal, they remained disciplined and in their shape. Galway seemed to be caught off guard by this at the restart, almost like they were anticipating some instant response. Jack Doherty had a good spell in possession during this period, but he lacked support and Galway easily picked the ball from the forward.
When Doherty was finally able to pull clear and try something, Brendan Clarke easily picked this up. He got into a better position after this, and a side-footed attempt inside the area was once again stopped by the Galway goalkeeper.
Keegan swapped things up by bringing on Callum Stringer, Jake Hegarty, and James O’Leary. As the trio took their first touches and got used to the pace of the game, Galway broke and Ibrahim Keita set up Manning to knock the ball in.
David Hurley was brought on shortly after this for Galway, and the midfielder helped anchor their play. He controlled the traffic in the centre while making sure his team were able to pass their way through the Cobh press.
The home side didn’t give up in the face of this as O’Leary kept pushing up on the right-hand side, trying to create something. When Galway broke again, Browne made sure to stand his ground and stop Francely Lomboto from scoring inside the area.
Despite a few half chances late in the game, Galway held Cobh at arm’s length and they comfortably ground out the result.
It was a stinging defeat for Keegan and his team, as their four-game unbeaten run came to an abrupt end. They don’t have too much time to dwell on what might have been, as they are in action on Monday in Limerick against Treaty United in the semi-finals of the Munster Senior Cup.
Lee Stacey; Michael McCarthy, Cian Browne, Brendan Frahill, Charlie Lyons, Pierce Philips, Jack Doherty, Lee Desmond, Issa Kargbo, Tiernan O’Brien, Jason Abbott.
Jake Hegarty for Kargbo (58), Callum Stringer for Desmond (58), James O’Leary for O’Brien (59), Dale Holland for Philips (79).
Galway United: Brendan Clarke; Regan Donelon, Rob Slevin, Killian Brouder, Stephen Walsh, Ibrahim Keita, Ronan Manning, Vincent Broden, Colm Horgan, Conor McCormack, Ed McCarthy.
Conor O’Keeffe for Donelan (9), David Hurley for Borden (66), Darren Clarke for McCarthy (77), Francely Lomboto for Manning (78), Maurice Nugent for Borden (81).