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Galway United 1

Derry City 4

Report: Cian O’Connell

Photos: William Geraghty

Terryland Park

Derry City’s excellent start to the 2011 Airtricity Premier Division season continued with a 4-1 win over Galway United in Terryland Park on Friday evening.

A mesmerising performance from Derry winger James McClean was capped off when he found the target twice in the second half. The win over Sean Conor’s Galway comes hot on the heels of Derry’s home win over Dundalk last week. Momentum seems to be gathering at the Brandywell and having played both Shamrock Rovers and Sligo Rovers, both tipped to challenge for the league title, Derry will start believing that perhaps they could do the same.

It was Derry’s third consecutive league victory. Stephen Kenny’s team are now joint top of the league with Shamrock Rovers and Sligo Rovers, with all three teams on 14 points. Derry are lying in second place as Michael O’Neill’s Dublin team boast a superior goal difference.

Moving the ball with speed and accuracy throughout, Derry ran out deserved winners following this clinical performance on the banks of the Corrib.

There was so much to admire in the manner Derry controlled this contest from the outset. Even though Derry were met by a passionate, if depleted, Galway outfit, they were able to deal with the locals’ enthusiasm capably before Eamon Zayed rattled the net on the stroke of half-time.

Seconds after the restart man of the match James McClean skipped clear to nudge the visitors two ahead, but then there was a brief Galway revival. Bobby Ryan struck a smashing goal on 49 minutes, but Derry roared back as a McClean thunderbolt edged Derry two in front again moments later. The insurance goal arrived in the 64th minute as the effective Gareth McGlynn glanced home Eddie McCallion’s wicked cross. Galway battled in the dying stages, but they lacked the necessary conviction to seriously examine a Derry team that are heading swiftly in the right direction.

Despite missing a string of regulars including former Candy Stripe Alan Murphy, Galway commenced with admirable grit and determination. Ryan and Sean Kelly went close with hopeful long range efforts from distance, but Derry weathered the storm, and then went on to boss the majority of the opening period.

Kevin Deery and Ruaidhri Higgins were ruling the midfield exchanges, meaning that McGlynn and McClean, in particular, were being permitted to manufacture chances with their delightful approach play.

Patrick McEleney tested Galway custodian Greg Fleming with a 20 yard drive as Derry camped in Galway territory. Left back Daniel Lafferty then crossed into the area where Zayed made a decent connection in the 12th minute, but Fleming got down well to turn the effort around the post.

Then on the quarter hour mark the ever-threatening McClean centred and McGlynn applied a deft flick goalwards, but the ball trickled inches wide as Galway somehow survived another fright.

McClean’s left peg was vexing the home team and in the 35th minute the winger’s free kick was nearly met by a despairing Deery lunge in front of goal. But for all Derry’s enterprise it seemed as if Galway would go in at the break on level terms.

They didn’t, though, because a slice of opportunism from the willing Zayed ensured Derry nicked the goal their football merited. McClean headed Zayed clear, and the Libyan international provided a precise finish from 16 yards. Derry were armed with a lead they wouldn’t subsequently relinquish.

Galway craved a positive start to the third quarter, but they were rocked within seconds of the restart as Deery slipped McClean through, and Derry extended their advantage. 2-0.

Credit to Sean Connor’s Galway as they came thundering back. Ryan netted a cute goal in the 49th minute to halve the deficit, but it proved merely a slight interruption for the Candy Stripes, who quickly regained the initiative.

Inevitably McClean was involved, unleashing a thunderbolt into the top corner in the 55th minute. From there to the finish all that remained to be determined was the margin of Derry’s success.

Derry’s play was of a remarkably high standard and a sharp McCallion delivery provided the assist for a tasty McGlynn fourth in the 64th minute.

L ate on Galway shaved the woodwork when replacement Shane Keogh wriggled free in the box. Derry replacement David McDaid also struck the timber in stoppage time, but it scarcely mattered as enough damage had been inflicted.

The early season evidence suggests that Derry certainly have the poise, pace, and potential to enjoy a productive campaign, and manager Kenny will have been heartened by the way his mixture of youth and experience ruled this fixture.

Under Connor’s watch Galway are usually earnest and competitive, but they don’t have the depth and breadth of quality that Derry possess and from an early stage on Friday evening it was apparent that the Candy Stripes are in the groove.

Declan Devine, Kenny’s loyal assistant, gave a fair post match appraisal highlighting McClean’s influence: “We were very happy with the way things went. I felt that we moved the ball very well and took our goals well. It was very pleasing, and we are delighted. Coming away to Galway is always a tough game, but to win 4-1 was great. It might have been a little but flattering, but we are very happy.

“James [McClean] has been carrying a bit of a groin strain, but to pop up with the two goals is just great. That is what he is capable of. The second goal was a great goal, he’s a very important player. I still think there is more to come from this team. There are a lot of young players at the club and we still believe there is more to come.

“We have a lot of young talent who are learning from the experienced players and they are helping them develop and we are delighted with the way things are going.”

Galway United: Greg Fleming; Shaun Kelly, Paul Sinnott, Shaun Maher, Stephen Walsh; Brian Cash (Shane Keogh, 70mins), Eduardo Dusi, Sean Kelly, Bobby Ryan; Karl Moore; Steve Feeney (Gary Curran, 60mins).

Derry City: Gerard Doherty; Eddie McCallion, Shane McEleney, Stewart Greacen, Daniel Lafferty; Gareth McGlynn, Kevin Deery, Ruaidhri Higgins, James McClean (Stephen McLaughlin, 78mins); Patrick McEleney (Michael McCrudden, 84mins), Eamon Zayed (David McDaid, 90mins).

Referee: N Doyle (Dublin).