SD Galway face another tricky Friday evening with first division title favourites Limerick FC the visitors to Deacy Park tomorrow.
Limerick posted a two-goal victory over Mervue United in their last league outing as second-half efforts from Denis Behan and Cian Collins proved decisive.
Mervue had been dogged for large spells of a tight game, but Limerick eventually scored after the restart. Stephen Bradley, the former Arsenal, Shamrock Rovers, and St Patrick's Athletic midfielder, provided a crisp corner which was headed home by the powerful Behan.
Mervue's cause was not helped by the harsh dismissal of Gary Kelly, while Johnny Glynn's side also had a penalty claim waved away before Collins added the insurance strike.
That result keeps Limerick within four points of surprise table-toppers Longford Town. Pat Scully's Limerick squad is packed with decent footballers as Shaun Kelly, Pat Purcell, Shane Guthrie, Bradley, Joe Gamble, Derek O'Brien, Corie Treacy, and Behan offer significant domestic experience.
All that matters to Limerick is securing promotion and, considering the players at the club, that appears to be an attainable target.
SD Galway were defeated by Waterford United at the Dyke Road venue in what followed a familiar pattern for them. Glimpses of SD Galway promise were available, but Waterford were far more clinical and efficient to ensure they departed with the full complement of spoils.
Still without a win in 2012, SD Galway crave a positive result when Limerick visit the west, but it is a demanding assignment. Manager Tony Mannion will be hoping that Liam Grant, Brian Geraghty, Tom Bradshaw, Eugene Greaney, Mixie Harty, and Mike Tierney can contribute hearty displays.
Despite the cruel reversal at Jackman Park, Mervue United make the short trip to Lissywoolen for a clash with a revitalised Athlone Town.
With Kelly suspended, Mervue will be forced into a change or two, but they were reasonably happy with how they tested Limerick.
Ronan Forde, Mark Ludden, Shane Keogh, Jason Molloy, Stephen Walsh, Alan Murphy, and Pat Hoban have all been heavily involved for Mervue over the past few weeks. Ultimately, though, Mervue will be disappointed to trail Finn Harps in the table by seven points at this stage of the campaign so added importance is attached to their encounter with Athlone.
Mike Kerley's midlanders sit in fifth position, having accumulated 16 points which is an adequate haul considering their youthful squad. Saturday's 2-1 away triumph over Finn Harps was an achievement as Stephen Relihan and Brian McCarthy netted goals for Athlone. Pat Jennings, Niall Scullion, Tommy Barrett, McCarthy, Damien Rushe, Jason Hughes, Kevin Williamson, and Noel McGee helped manufacture that victory in the north west and Mervue know a resolute performance will be necessary to frustrate an improving Athlone.
Despite a poor start to the season, Mervue be striving to move up the standings in the coming weeks as their next four fixtures against Athlone, Wexford Youths, Waterford, and SD Galway offers them a real chance to trim the gap on Harps, who currently occupy sixth place.