Six SSE Airtricity League first division fixtures remain for Galway United, and first up requiring a positive result is Cabinteely at Eamonn Deacy Park tomorrow evening (7.45pm ).
United suffered another disappointing defeat last Friday when losing to impressive table toppers UCD, who ruthlessly punished defensive lapses in concentration. United started the match brightly, but Eoin McCormack had a penalty saved and UCD were sufficiently powerful to eke out a victory.
Alex Byrne’s committed midfield display and Conor Barry’s industry were among the few positives the visitors took from the game, but manager Alan Murphy is hopeful United can still make a push for a play-off spot. Murphy wants United to earn a third win in four matches to stay in the race.
“At the start if you had said to me that a win against Cabinteely would give us nine out of 12 points, I'd probably have taken it with the current mood in the squad,” Murphy says about the upcoming Cabinteely encounter. “It is a huge game on Friday night and it is a must win, being brutally honest.
“The only positive from Friday, looking back on the video, is that it wasn't as bad as we thought it was. We had chances in the game, we just didn't take them. Even the penalty - had we not got the penalty, we may have been better off because I felt missing the penalty brought us down a little bit.”
Murphy believes United’s mix of youthful and experienced players can finish the campaign strongly. “I thought the endeavour and the work ethic was very good,” Murphy says about the UCD match.
“At half-time I was quite happy with it, but I wasn't happy about the fact that we didn't play very much. We worked hard, but we gave the ball away a lot. Yes, UCD were the better side on the night, but apart from the goals Tadhg Ryan had two goal kicks in the second half. That was it.
“We mustn't have been under that much pressure with the exception of the goals. We had our chances, we didn't take them. UCD is a good side. They are probably going to win the league. If we were to lose to anybody, we would be better off losing to UCD because it isn't a six pointer for us, any of the other teams above us, they are all six pointers.”
The manner in which UCD approached the match confirmed to Murphy what can be achieved through clever strategic planning. It is something Murphy is adamant can be accomplished in the west.
“It shows what can be achieved and long term that is what we have to look at,” he says. “We have to look at our own homegrown players being the majority of a selected XI on any given Friday night for our senior team. That is what we have to strive towards. It is grand trying to get this guy from there trying to plug a gap with six games to go in a campaign, but the situation is financially it doesn't make any sense trying to be attracting players for one season. It is a non event.
“The work is still going on. It is very good and important work with the U15s, 17s, and 19s. This season is going to be a success - it will be a success if we get into the play-offs, but it will also be a success if we don't because we will have brought through a number of players, who will have got experience at the level.
“That can only progress into next year when another group of players will get experience at the level. So success to me is all of those things, yes it is the play-offs, and we want to get to the play-offs.”