Shamrock Rovers 2 Galway United 0
Considering just three clubs have sampled the Aviva Stadium showpiece since 2015, it’s accurate to say the romance of the FAI Cup has gone stale.
Still, dreamers of a Galway United persuasion wondered if a clash with Shamrock Rovers in the year of the 30th anniversary of their 1991 final triumph might deliver some magic.
It never looked likely, right from when the team-sheets confirmed the First Division side were depleted whereas the Hoops were able to rotate their squad and get minutes into the legs of players who need it with European matters in mind.
Galway boss John Caulfield has a one-track focus on promotion this term and he pragmatically dismissed the chances of an upset in the preliminaries.
His full-time squad is an interesting mixture of outside recruits and local lads with the tradition of every Galway native in the senior international squad having a brother playing at a decent level reflected here.
Daryl Horgan’s sibling Christopher Horgan operated at right-back, while Aaron Connolly’s younger brother Ethan made the bench as his journey starts. Ronan Manning – brother of Ryan – is injured.
But the Tribesmen were clear second best from the outset, with insult added to injury by the fact it was one of their own, Rory Gaffney, who opened the scoring from a Richie Towell cross. If Caulfield can bring the club back to the top flight, relocating the Galway men spread around the league will be a plan.
Dylan Watts added the second for Rovers, the highlight of an important evening for the playmaker who is working his way back to full fitness.
The next month could get very interesting for the Hoops as it seems likely they will face Andorran opposition in the penultimate round of Europa Conference League qualifying. Do the job there and they’ve got a €2.9m two-legged tie coming over the horizon.
Galway are a world away from that, yet they were better in the second half and Ruairi Keating was denied by the woodwork and Alan Mannus as Rovers allowed their levels to drop off without ever being in real danger.
Shamrock Rovers – Mannus; O’Brien (Scales 62), Lopes, Grace; Gannon, O’Neill, Watts, Kavanagh (Murphy 79); Towell (Noonan 72), Burke; Gaffney (Greene 72)
Galway United – Kearns, Horgan, Gorman, Nugent, Walsh; Boylan, Murphy (O’Dea 32); Place (Kelly 82), Rowe (Cunningham 73), Keating; Waweru (Oluwa 45)
Ref – Rob Hennessy