A contrasting few days at Terryland Park. From the delight of a top flight success over Bray Wanderers to the despair of a League Cup defeat against UCD ensures Saturday’s trip to the Showgrounds is crucial.
On Friday United delivered a splendid Jay O’Shea-inspired display. Three tasty goals dismissed Bray at Terryland Park by 3 - 0. However United then failed to build on an adequate first half when UCD came to town on Monday evening for the League Cup quarter-finals. And when Garry Breen was sent off in the 55th minute United were unable to deal with that blow, and the effective students prevailed.
It was unfortunate for Galway who had been so stylish when outfoxing Bray following the Dundalk defeat.
Manager Ian Foster was impressed by the manner in which his players embraced the challenge. “I asked the players for the reaction. We had a meeting where we sat down with management - a sort of coaching session that we have in which all the players get to have their say as well. It’s something we did last season and something we’ll continue to do this season. So everybody got things off their chest that they needed to. We all asked for a response and a reaction and we got it.”
And Foster will be hoping Galway can summon a similar riposte on Saturday when faced with a capable Sligo Rovers outfit.
“I think we’ve improved on last season’s squad, I think we’ve got young, hungry players who want to progress and do well for Galway United, and I’m delighted with the squad we’ve assembled and I believe we’re stronger than we were last year.”
Much of Galway’s effectiveness has been down to a solid rearguard, but the suspension of Breen ensures Foster faces a selection dilemna. Barry Ryan, Seamus Conneely, Shane Guthrie, Breen, and Iarfhlaith Daveron have been regulars, so it will be interesting to see how Galway cope with the disruption.
“Defensively we start from the top and you see how hard Vinny Faherty works to close people down and when he does that we have a chance.”
Foster is adamant that there is sufficient craft in the Galway to make an impact in the last third too.
“I think particularly at home we’ve got so many attack-minded players, the likes of Russell, O’Shea, Faherty, [Declan] Edwards, [Derek] O’Brien, [Jason] Molloy, there’s a lot of players there attacking-wise. Yes I do like to keep things tight. I think if we keep things tight in whatever system we play, then I fancy us to nick a goal at the other end.”
Being safe and solid is Galway’s initial errand in the northwest, and Guthrie’s relevance to the cause should not be underestimated. In the centre of the park McBrien, Michael McGrath, Dave Cooke, and John Russell will need to strain every sinew to deny a crafty enough Sligo side time and space.
Sligo enjoyed a League Cup quarter-final triumph over Sporting Fingal on Monday, and though they have not claimed a premier division win since April 10, they are dangerous opponents. Galway will be required to demonstrate grit.
GUST will be running a bus to the premier division match v Sligo Rovers at the Showgrounds on Saturday, departing from Fibber Magees, Eyre Square at 2pm. To book a seat phone Ronan Coleman 087-6972823, or Conor Holland 087-2184132. GUST will take on a Sligo Rovers XI in a football challenge at the Showgrounds before the premier division match. KO is 4.30pm.
GUST wil be holding a football table quiz upstairs in Fibber Magees, on Thursday week, May 28 after the premier division match against Derry City at Terryland Park (KO 7.45pm ). All questions will be about football, from the premiership to the World Cup, and from the Champions League to the League of Ireland. The entry fee is €40 per table of four.
The opening series of first division fixtures brought plenty of positives for Mervue United, who have competed well at this level.
Still Mervue will be slightly disappointed with a return of one point from their last four matches. Even though those contests were against healthy opposition in UCD, Waterford United, Fingal, and Wexford Youths, manager Johnny Glynn has stressed the importance of continuing to glean results.
Mervue will head for Lissywoolen on Saturday aware that Athlone Town have lost four on the spin, so they will face a team identically intent to recapture the form shown earlier in the year.