Every season a defining fixture arrives, and tomorrow evening in Ballybofey Galway United will sit an exacting exam. If relegation is to be avoided, United cannot afford to lose so delivering a substantial performance is the remit.
Finn Harps have been struggling recently, losing a half dozen times in seven games, but with United desperately needing points, an interesting clash is anticipated. Can Galway add to Harps’ recent woes or will Paul Hegarty’s charges make a significant statement?
Last Friday's drubbing by Derry City rocked Galway who leaked four goals in a troubling first half hour. Thereafter Galway became more competitive, but sufficient damage had been inflicted.
Now Galway must demonstrate character by responding to that substantial setback. Jeff Kenna and Ian Foster deserve to be commended for the manner in which they have remained positive that Galway can preserve their top-flight status despite the financial difficulties that have bothered the club recently.
Kenna and Foster appear to possess the knowledge and acumen to aid the Galwegian youngsters on their footballing journeys. One of the encouraging aspects of an otherwise drama filled season is the fact that Seamus Conneely, Paul Synott, Jason Molloy, Cian McBrien, Jonathan Keane, and Stephen Cunningham have all sampled action in the Eircom League.
Before the Derry disaster United had been showing signs of improvement. The rugged manner in which a scarcely merited draw was achieved against Sligo Rovers augured well, and then the smash and grab raid in the Carlisle Grounds added to the sense of satisfaction.
Galway need to recapture the resolution that was evident in those two tricky assignments in Donegal, but the locals will be targeting this game too.
And in Conor Gethins, the former Galway frontrunner, they have a player with the speed to vex a United defence that was burned by the Candystripes. Galway will need to deny Gethin’s time and space because his finishing can be precise.
That is why the midfield battle will be particularly pressing. Galway have sorely missed the subtlety of John Russell in the past couple of weeks and this match ought to be tight and tense ensuring a tidy distributor is required. Alan Murphy may be the footballer to offer the guile and leadership in the centre of the park as Galway search for an injection of confidence.
With Derek Glynn spearheading the attack, Galway will be armed with a menacing threat. When the opportunities are fashioned, United must convert if the spoils are to be pocketed from this high stakes tussle.
•Galway United Supporters Trust will be running a bus to Friday evening’s premier division match in Ballybofey, departing from Fibber Magees, Eyre Square, at 2.00pm. Seats can be booked by ringing Ronan at (087 ) 6972823.