Monday 16 September 2019

Grace sends Rovers through at expense of his former club

Galway United 1 Shamrock Rovers 2

Lee Grace. Photo: Sportsfile
Lee Grace. Photo: Sportsfile

John Fallon

Lee Grace snatched a last-gasp winner for the Hoops as two former Galway United players came back to haunt them at Eamonn Deacy Park and book a spot in the quarter-finals of the FAI Cup.

Shamrock Rovers did not panic when they fell behind before the break and got back on level terms when another ex-Galway player Aaron Greene struck in the third quarter.

And with a replay in Tallaght on the cards, Grace sent the brave First Division outfit packing when he headed home a winner in the third minute of added time.

It was a cruel on a Galway side who defied their 16/1 outsiders' tag in front of a crowd of 1,525 on a perfect evening for football in Galway.

Graham Burke of Shamrock Rovers in action against Stephen Walsh of Galway United. Photo by Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile
Graham Burke of Shamrock Rovers in action against Stephen Walsh of Galway United. Photo by Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile

The First Division strugglers were clearly not overawed by the Hoops and there was little between the sides in the opening half as they clashed in the cup for only the fourth time ever.

Two of those meetings were in the final - a 1-0 win to each of them - while Rovers won the only other quarter-final meeting 6-0 nine years ago.

The Galway 1991 cup final goalscorer and skipper Johnny Glynn, sitting beside the manager of that victorious team Joey Malone, was on his feet when Maurice Nugent gave United a shock lead after 33 minutes.

A Marc Ludden throw from the left was not dealt with and Christopher controlled and let fly from the edge of the box and while his effort was blocked in the crowded box, Maurice Nugent pounced to dispatch the ball to the net from close range. Rovers hit back before the break but couldn't find a way through, with Ludden doing well to block an effort from Graham Burke just before the interval.

Donal Higgins of Galway United in action against Dylan Watts of Shamrock Rovers. Photo by Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile
Donal Higgins of Galway United in action against Dylan Watts of Shamrock Rovers. Photo by Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile

Galway had a chance to double their lead eight minutes after the restart thanks to a good break by Conor Barry but Christopher was unable to hit the target.

Rovers got back on level terms after 56 minutes when good pressure saw Graham Burke pull back an effort from the left and the inrushing Greene scored from close range.

Rovers got back on level terms after 56 minutes when good pressure saw Graham Burke pull back an effort from the left and the inrushing Aaron Greene scored from close range against one of his former clubs.

Dylan Watts forced Galway keeper Kevin Horgan to make a good save from distance and he also dealt capably with an effort from Graham Burke.

Galway got few opportunities to restore their lead and at the other end it took a superb goal-line clearance from goalscorer Nugent to deflect a header over the bar with less than five minutes remaining.

But Rovers never gave up and snatched it at the death to break Galway United's hearts when Grace struck when he rose the highest in a crowded box to score.

Galway United - K Horgan; Lynch, Walsh, Brouder, Ludden; Higgins, Collins (C Horgan 59), Nugent, Christopher; Melody (Faherty 75), Barry (Davoren 84).

Shamrock Rovers - Mannus; O'Neill, Lopez, Grace, Lafferty (Bolger 68); Watts, Burke, Finn, Kavanagh; McEneff, Greene.

Ref - D Tomney (Dublin)

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