Galway United relegated following seven-goal thriller against Dundalk
Galway 3 Dundalk 4
Galway United knew they needed to win against Dundalk to pile the pressure on Sligo Rovers and St Patrick’s Athletic, but they lost and were relegated at Eamonn Deacy Park.
There were 2,214 present and they were sensing a Galway winner in the dying minutes after Ronan Murray had equalised but Michael Duffy scored a 92nd-minute clincher for Dundalk.
Stephen Folan and Rory Hale had found the net for the hosts but goals from Niclas Vemmelund, Jamie McGrath and Patrick McEleney meant Galway were always chasing the game.
Galway were three points behind both of their direct rivals in the relegation battle, but they had a superior goal difference heading into the game against Dundalk.
Stephen Kenny could have rested some of his front-liners with the FAI Cup final coming up next week but he selected a strong starting 11.
And even though Galway were under massive pressure they got the early goal they craved when Folan scored in the ninth minute.
Both defences were poor in the opening exchanges and a Kevin Devaney corner wasn’t cleared allowing the Galway centre-half to step up and blast his shot past Gary Rogers in the Dundalk goal.
It was a frantic start to the match and Galway didn’t drop deep after their goal, and that allowed Dundalk to equalise within two minutes.
Dundalk had two attacks after Folan’s strike, and on their second foray forward Michael Duffy’s shot was saved by Conor Winn but Vemmelund finished off the rebound.
Galway’s top goalscorer Ronan Murray volleyed wide after a Devaney corner, and David McMillan missed his gilt-edged opportunity when he was through one-on-one with Winn.
The play settled down but Dundalk always looked the more dangerous side and they scored again three minutes before half-time.
Jamie McGrath was given far too much room in the Galway penalty area and he scored before they doubled their advantage with one of the goals of the season.
McGrath led the counter-attack and gave the ball to McEleney who lobbed an audacious effort over Winn for a 3-1 half-time lead.
Galway came out in sheer desperation in the second-half, looking for a miracle, and when Hale latched onto Eoin McCormack’s pass to score in the 53rd minute, the comeback looked possible.
But Murray’s strike came too late in the 88th minute and that was cancelled out four minutes later when Duffy scored the winner to send Galway down.
Galway - C Winn; C Horgan, N Maher, S Folan, M Ludden; G Shanahan (C Melody 77), D Cawley, R Hale, K Devaney (R Manning 77); R Murray, E McCormack (P Cunningham 77).
Dundalk - G Rogers; S Gannon, B Gartland, N Vemmelund, D Massey; J McGrath, S O’Donnell, R Benson, M Duffy; P McEleney (D Connolly 58), D McMillan (T Stewart 80).
Ref - B Connolly (Dublin)