Mervue hope to dent hopes of promotion-chasing Waterford
With five games remaining in the Airtricity League first division, Mervue United host promotion-chasing Waterford United at Fahy's Field on Saturday (4.30pm).
The Republic of Ireland's World Cup qualifier with Sweden tomorrow ensures the domestic matches will be spread out over the weekend and Waterford will arrive in the west as one of the in-form sides in a competitive race for top flight football.
Mervue had been threatening to make a bold bid themselves, but a couple of disappointing results recently have seen them slip out of contention. Still in fourth place, though, it has been an encouraging campaign for Mervue, who have won six of their 11 home matches.
Despite a stuttering start to the year, Waterford have tasted victory in seven of their 11 matches outside the RSC, where they have prevailed five times out of 12.
Those statistics show that Waterford have the talent and temperament to dig out victories so Mervue will need to be as safe and solid as they were when defeating Salthill Devon at Drom last Friday in a disappointing derby clash.
Gary Shanahan's 29th minute goal was enough to give Mervue the spoils as the visitors were able to deal with Salthill's enthusiasm. Custodian Ger Hanley, who has returned to Mervue, was capable between the sticks, with Tom King, Martin Conneely, Stephen Walsh, Marc Ludden, Noel Varley, and the promising Ryan Manning all contributing to the success.
Manning was effective for Mervue, who are keen to catch third place Longford Town. Only four points separate Mervue and Longford at present so a home triumph on Saturday would nudge Johnny Glynn's charges closer to that target.
Salthill face the long trek to Ferrycarrig Park for an 8pm kick off on Saturday with Wexford Youths.
Now nine points adrift of Cobh Ramblers, Salthill require a string of wins to avoid another last place finish, but they have enjoyed success over Wexford previously.
Brian Geraghty's red card in the loss to Mervue rules him out of contention and the experienced performer will be a significant absentee for a Devon squad short on depth. The departures of Jamie McGlynn, Derek O'Brien, Graham Kelly, and Enda Curran have seriously hampered Salthill, who have suffered five reversals in their last half dozen tussles.
Low on confidence, Salthill must be resilient in the south east and Jumbo Brennan will be hoping that Robbie Gaul, Oscar Sibanda, Timmy Molloy, Mixie Harty, and Craig Harding can summon dynamic displays in Wexford.