Pat Sullivan had an eventful night in Galway as his seventh minute header was enough to give Rovers the three points in a hard fought encounter but the Hoops defender was carried from the pitch on 51 minutes with a knee injury.
It may have been a calm evening in the West but the game turned out to be a scrappy battle on what looked like a heavily sanded and bumpy pitch. The Hoops started well with Sean O’Connor’s free-kick to the back post on 5 minutes finding Billy Dennehy and his first time volley was well saved by Barry Ryan.
Two minutes later Sullivan swooped to head home via a slight deflection from O’Connor’s free-kick. Rovers were on top in the early period but the home side gradually got into the game and O’Donnell was denied a chance by Murray on 13 minutes.
Dennehy had a shot saved on 14 minutes before Barrett broke forward a minute later but couldn’t get his shot on target. Cian McBrien was a threat for the home side and his turn into the area on 28 minutes saw the ball run to Alan Mannus. McBrien then had a wonderful chance to score on the half-hour when Murray miss-judged his header and the Galway number 17 ran on goal but fortunately for Rovers he scuffed his shot wide.
O’Connor’s deep cross on 36 minutes saw defender Connelly get to the ball just before Dennehy. O’Connor then almost put Barrett in on goal but the Hoops striker couldn’t get the ball under control.
A great run by Bayly in the 41st minute saw Ryan push his shot away to safety.
The second-half started with Dennehy shooting just wide from 25 yards before Rovers had to reorganise when Sullivan departed the pitch injured. Aiden Price came into the centre-half position and Craig Sives went to right-back.
The home side thought they had equalised on 58 minutes when McBrien’s volley from just outside the area looked goal-bound until ‘keeper Mannus got a decisive hand to the ball to push it around the post.
Five minutes later it was the Galway keepers turn to excel when a Sean O’Connor free-kick from 25 yards was heading for the top corner only for Ryan to make a fine one-handed save. The resulting corner was met by Sives but he couldn’t direct his header on goal.
The game was played at a frantic pace with a lot of stoppages and scrappy play. The home side continued to look for an equaliser but both Murray and Price were winning vital balls in the Hoops box.
Ryan dived to his right to save a low O’Connor shot on 81 minutes while at the other end Mannus claimed a fine cross from Connelly. The introduction of Don Cowan with ten minutes remaining almost paid dividends when he burst away from the half-way line but he couldn’t get a shot on goal under pressure from two defenders.
A great defensive header from Enda Stevens with five minutes left and some hard work throughout the team denied the home side an equaliser but it wasn’t easy and both the Rovers players and Fans breathed a collective sigh of relief at the final whistle.