LEAGUE OF IRELAND FIRST DIVISION
Galway United 9
Kerry FC 1
The realities of a professional league really struck home for Kerry FC in Eamonn Deacy Park on Friday night as the newcomers were put to the sword in a clinical fashion by unbeaten First Division table toppers Galway United.
It was an occasion when the visitors probably got the best goal of the game when half time substitute Ryan Kelliher power home a cracking header, but that was a rare highlight and small consolation as the home side were already six to the good at that stage. With the Tribesmen having lost out in the play-offs over the last three years, the only guaranteed way to promotion to the Premier Division is to top the First Division table, and although this is a very early stage of the campaign there appears to be a greater edge about the side this season.
Kerry manager Billy Dennehy made two changes to the starting eleven that drew 1-1 with Treaty the previous week as Samuel Aladesanusi slotted in at right full, with Ronan Teahan taking up a midfield role, as they replaced Shane Guthrie, who dropped to the bench, while Andy Quaid was missing due to his red card against the Limerick side.
The visitors were on the back foot from the off, but Galway never threatened until they made the breakthrough on 10 minutes when Ed McCarthy broke into the box and powered a shot past Wayne Guthrie. Limerick native McCarthy appears to be operating on a new level this season and he had a simple tap in for the second after Francely Lomboto set him up in the box. The home side made it three on 33 minutes when Rob Slevin rose highest in the box to head in a Regan Donelon corner.
They were to add two more before the break as Lomboto got his first of the season from close range, before McCarthy completed his hat trick with a rebound after a Stephen Walsh effort came back off a post to leave matters at 5-0 at the interval.
Now the game was a real step up in pace and quality for academy players like Samuel Aladesanusi, Sean O’Connell and Ronan Teahan, but they acquitted themselves very well in a half in which they were under pressure for the duration. Opportunities in the last third of the park were rare, but the work-rate of Leo Gaxha, Sean McGrath and Sean Kennedy could only be admired.
Dennehy rung the changes at the break as former Mervue United player Jonathan Hannafin, Cian Barrett – who had just signed from Shamrock Rovers on loan earlier in the week – and Ryan Kelliher replaced Sean O’Connell, Sean McGrath and Matt Keane, and for the third quarter they enjoyed their best spell of the game. Defensively they kept the home side in check for a spell, before two Galway substitutes combined as Darren Clarke set up Ibrahim Keith to slot home on 63 minutes.
Now Kerry striker Nathan Gleeson was ploughing a lone furrow up top all evening, but he got a reward for his endeavours on 65 minutes when he broke down the left and from his cross the inrushing Kelliher got between two defender to flash a header to the net as he made it 6-1. The visitors got little opportunity to gain any confidence from the goal, as normal service resumed at the other end almost immediately.
Apart, perhaps, from the first goal there was little goalkeeper Wayne Guthrie could do about any of the goals that passed him, but he made two smashing saves to thwart Stephen Walsh, before Keita notched his second in a one on one with the custodian. Local cult hero and last season’s leading scorer Walsh finally got off the mark when converting from the spot on 85 minutes, before the same player completed a miserable night for the visitors with the ninth in additional time.
Kerry have now played the top three in the First Division table and while two goal defeats in the previous games against Cobh and Bray were acceptable, on this occasion they met another level of performance that John Caulfield demands from his side.
Next week the Kingdom take to the road again when they make the journey to meet Wexford. Better will be expected.
GALWAY UNITED: Brendan Clarke, Colm Horgan, Regan Donelon (Maurice Nugent, 68), Rob Slevin, Killian Brouder, Conor McCormack (David Hurley, 46), Vincent Borden, Ed McCarthy (Mikie Rowe, 68), Ronan Manning (Darren Clarke, 59), Stephen Walsh, Francely Lomboto (Ibrahim Keita, 59).
KERRY FC: Wayne Guthrie, Samuel Aladesanusi, Sean O’Connell (Jonathan Hannafin 46mins), Kevin Williams, Kelan Spillane, Sean Kennedy, Matt Keane (Ryan Kelliher, 46), Sean McGrath (Cian Barrett, 46), Leo Gaxha, Ronan Teahan (Alex Ainscough, 81), Nathan Gleeson (Cian Brosnan, 81).
Referee: Gavin Colfer