Galway United began life in the First Division on Friday night with a comfortable victory over Athlone Town in Eamonn Deacy Park.
Danny Furlong marked his debut with a hat-trick and Ronan Manning scored his first goal for the club before ex-Real Madrid player Felix Perez got a late consolation for the visitors.
Our First Division ‘Player of the Week’ is Galway United’s new number 9 and hat-trick hero @danny_furlong in their opening day win over Athlone Town 👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻#LOI #GreatestLeagueInTheWorld pic.twitter.com/ppFoHPIO6w
— League of Ireland (@league_ireland) February 25, 2018
After the Athlone defence failed to clear on 14 minutes, Furlong took advantage finding the bottom corner for the first goal. And 20 minutes later, the ex-Wexford Youths striker found space following Marc Ludden’s cross to make it 2-0.
Another Ludden delivery meant for Furlong saw Manning hit the top corner after Bashmil Nyakambili’s clearance didn’t materialise. But Furlong did leave with the match ball finishing Gary Shanahan’s assist for the hat-trick nine minutes from time.
“Some of our passing and first touches were very sloppy,” said manager Shane Keegan to Galway United’s official website. “It wasn’t anywhere near sharp enough.
“Danny (Furlong) was extremely clinical. My get out of jail card was we looked like a team that hadn’t done a whole lot together and that’s because we are a team that hasn’t. We need to get better, fast.”
“That’s Danny’s game. He’s got good technique, he’ll give you a bit outside the 18-yard-box but I wouldn’t say he’s a standout player outside the box.”
MILESTONE | Alex Byrne made his 100th appearance for United in last night's win against Athlone Town.
— Galway United (@GalwayUnitedFC) February 24, 2018
“It’s three goals on your debut,” added Furlong. “I suppose it doesn’t really come much better than that and more importantly, three points.
“Anything in and around the 18-yard-box, I tend to latch onto. I probably could have had one or two more chances or half-chances even, but I’m happy enough with the chances that I did get and put away.”
#GUFCTV 🎥 | Watch all of the goals from United's 4-1 win against Athlone Town on opening night at Eamonn Deacy Park!
Danny Furlong scored a clinically taken hat-trick on his debut and Ronan Manning grabbed his first goal for Galway United. https://t.co/KU9Zd953DG
— Galway United (@GalwayUnitedFC) February 25, 2018
GALWAY UNITED 4 (Danny Furlong 14, 34, 81′, Ronan Manning 60′)
ATHLONE TOWN 1 (Felix Perez 93′)
Galway United: Tadhg Ryan; Marc Ludden, Robbie Williams, Stephen Walsh, Gary Shanahan; Alex Byrne, Stephen Kenny, Ryan Connolly, Ronan Manning; Danny Furlong, Eoin McCormack. Subs used: Carlton Ubaezuna for McCormack (61 mins), Conor Barry for Byrne (70 mins), Maurice Nugent for Kenny (70 mins).
Athlone Town: Nathan Murphy; Aaron Brilly, Felix Perez, Gerard Smith, Bashmil Nyakambili; Steven Grogan, Brian Cabraley, Shane Stokes, Martin Walsh; Craig Short, Thaigh Keogh. Subs used: George Mukete for Grogan (HT), Etanda Nkololo for Keogh (HT), Josh Hogan for Cabraley (66 mins).
Referee: David Keeler