A season high crowd of 607 turned out at Fahy’s Field to watch Mervue United win 1-0 in the first leg of the promotion playoffs but in truth it could have been considerably more. Jason Molloy scored the only goal of the game after 14 minutes when he found the top corner for the team from the eastside of Galway. Longford were reduced to 10 men when captain Tracy was sent off with a straight red for a dangerous tackle on Mervue’s Duffy.
Mervue started extremely well, dominating from the kick-off. After just seven minutes Gary Shanahan, who was causing Longford lots of problems from the right wing rattled the crossbar after Town captain Corie Tracey gave the ball away cheaply in midfield.
Opportunity knocked again for the Galway men on 10 minutes when striker Michael Duffy was put through by the excellent Ryan Manning, Bennion raced from his line to narrow the angle and when perhaps a chip was the best option Duffy instead went low allowing Bannion to gather. The big crowd at Fahy's Field new there was a goal coming and in the 14th minute Jason Molloy didn't disappoint, picking up the ball centrally 28 yards out he unleashed a looping curler which nestled in the top corner. Bennion in the Longford goal slipped but would not have reached the shot either way.
On 22 minutes Longford registered their first chance when Connolly's effort was tipped onto the crossbar, four minutes later Longford's task became significantly more difficult when captain Tracy was sent off. It was a head on challenge in midfield with Duffy where the Longford man appeared to go over the top of the ball. A straight red met no complaints from Tracey or his team mates. The impressive Shanahan hit the side netting and had a close range header saved towards the end of the half.
Longford were much improved in the second half, early on Haverty just failed to connect to a Connolly freelick at the back post. David O’Sullivan impressed upfront without much support and in the 50th minute showed a great touch bringing down a kick out before turning 2 defenders only to see his effort pushed out for a corner. King and Curran combined well for Mervue minutes later which the keeper saved, Duffy was there for the follow up only to miss narrowly.
Shanahan missed again with a great chance from a corner 4 yards out heading wide on the hour mark. The impressive Manning twice came close with the keeper saving in the 67th minute and O’Connor clearing off the line minutes later. Manning again was the orchestrator slipping in Lavelle in the 88th minute but Bennion was up to the task saving well. Longford almost stole a draw in injury time when Connolly sent a free kick in and Shaw connected with a looping header which hit the top of the bar.
Longford will be happy to leave Galway with only a one goal loss in truth if Shanahan had his shooting boots on then this tie would be over before the second leg next Friday in Longford.