Tuesday evening's lively pre-season friendly at Fahy's Field provided further encouragement for Galway FC, who summoned a hearty display to defeat Dundalk by 2-1.
Despite the bitterly cold conditions, Galway FC and Dundalk served up an entertaining match that was ultimately decided by a last-gasp Gary Shanahan goal.
Galway FC had encountered some bother initially as the highly-regarded Dundalk outfit provided glimpses of its passing pedigree.
The three Galwegians in Dundalk's side, Stephen O'Donnell, Daryl Horgan, and Pat Hoban, were all prominent as Stephen Kenny's side settled quickly.
O'Donnell rolled Dundalk into a fourth-minute lead following a Galway FC lapse in concentration, but Tommy Dunne's charges recovered.
After the restart Jake Keegan and Shanahan rattled the Dundalk net and Dunne was pleased with how his team battled, especially in the second period.
"It was a very encouraging second half,” was Dunne's verdict. “ It was a good workout for both teams. As regards getting the legs moving and getting lads game time, it was another useful exercise for us. That is the most important thing, but of course it is encouraging to get a result like that.
"We were playing against one of the favourites for the premier division this year. From our side we just want to keep building. I know that we have a lot of work to do, but we have to start somewhere and that is what we are doing.”
Youth will be given its fling by Galway FC in the upcoming Airtricity League first division campaign so Dunne is adamant it will be a testing journey for all concerned. Though Galway FC have competed effectively against Sligo Rovers, Limerick FC, and Dundalk, Dunne wants his squad to reduce the number of opportunities opponents are being allowed to make. "In the first half and even in the second half Dundalk had a lot of chances,” he said.
“Dundalk could have been out of sight. We are not silly enough to get carried away. These are training games for the teams involved so from that aspect we are delighted. Overall we are just looking to progress. We still have a lot of work to do.
“We have to keep organising ourselves well because we cannot give away too many chances. In each game we have given away too many chances and it is something we must stop. We are happy enough, but, to be fully fit and fully right, we have three or four more weeks to go. We do have a bit of work to do.
“We have competed in all the games, but being realistic Dundalk could have been out of sight after 15 or 20 minutes. They had some great chances. When you start like that in a match, it will always be difficult. The boys battled, though, and that is brilliant.”
Dunne has signed 24 players and, with others local youngsters such as Alex Byrne (Salthill Devon) and Aaron McDonagh (Mervue United) who have been permitted to play in pre-season fixtures, excelling, the Galway FC boss believes there is significant potential in the west.
“There is a lot of competition here,” Dunne said. “There is no guarantee for any position. What I will be saying to all the players is that they must perform and compete for their place. If they perform well, they will have a chance of playing. There are no certainties with me at the moment on anything here."
Galway FC first half XI: Gleeson; Owens, Conneely, Walsh, Byrne; Shanahan, Sinnott, Connolly, Keegan; Molloy; Faherty. Galway FC second half XI: Hanley; Horgan, Fadden, Elwood, Byrne (Owens, 70); Molloy (McDonagh, 55), Varley, Gavin, Keegan; Manning; Walsh (Shanahan, 82).