A revealing SSE Airtricity League first division encounter looms for Galway United, who host table-toppers UCD at Eamonn Deacy Park tomorrow (7.45pm ).
United need to respond following Monday’s bitterly disappointing defeat in Ballybofey to Finn Harps, who struck an injury-time winner courtesy of Jesse Devers. That was a severe blow for the Tribesmen, who had beaten Athlone comfortably at Lissywollen on Friday.
Added significance is now attached to the fixture with UCD, who manager Shane Keegan says are so far in front.
“Strangely enough the whole league is probably behind us for this one because they are starting to look a bit like a runaway train at the moment,” Keegan says about UCD, who hammered Wexford by eight goals in their most recent outing.
“They have been flying so we need to start hauling them back towards the rest of the group. If we could get the three points, it would bring us closer to them and put a different complexion on things.”
Keegan is hopeful United can be "more clinical" in converting opportunities, with Danny Furlong’s return to fitness following illness a real boost.
“It was an absolutely heartbreaking defeat to be honest,” Keegan states about the Harps' reversal. “It was their first shot on target at the end. We played reasonably well, but created what could be deemed four very good goalscoring chances, while at the other end Tadhg Ryan didn't have many saves to make.
“You are then in a state of mind where you are disappointed to be only coming away with a draw and before the final whistle, you don't even get that, so it is a really hard one to swallow.
“It is a very different defeat to the Shels one because we just didn't perform against Shels. We were awful against Shels. I'm not saying we were fantastic against Harps. I'm sure the supporters would say we could be better, but we were the better side in terms of creating goalscoring chances.
“A combination of good goalkeeping and us not being clinical enough in front of goal meant that we found ourselves in that position where it was still nil all.”
That United have lost to Shelbourne and Harps away from home in recent weeks is worry, but Keegan still feels his team can make an impact.
“It was a very different defeat because after the Shels game it was really a case of picking us up off the floor because we had been so poor that day.
“This was a different kind of picking yourself up, you had to wrap your head around how you managed to give a decent performance, be in charge of a game and still have nothing to show for it.
“The actual performance, apart from the need to be more clinical, doesn't need huge improvement. After the Shels one we needed a massive level of improvement.”
What Keegan’s side require now is a victory on home turf, but it will be a demanding task because UCD have scored 28 goals in 11 matches. Eight of those have ended in UCD victories, so United will need to produce an enterprising and efficient display if attaining top flight status remains the ambition.