Galway FC, unbeaten in four SSE Airtricity League first division games, will return to Eamonn Deacy Park tomorrow evening when Finn Harps visit the west.
The teams collided at the Dyke Road venue last Monday week in the EA Sports Cup when a Vinny Faherty goal sent Galway into the quarter-finals of that competition. Since then Harps defeated Cobh Ramblers in league action, while Galway required a fine Jake Keegan goal to earn a draw away to Shamrock Rovers B at Tallaght Stadium on Sunday.
Considering Galway played the majority of that encounter with only 10 men following the dismissal of Stephen Walsh, manager Tommy Dunne viewed it as one point gained rather than two lost.
“Second half I felt we were disciplined and we had to soak up a bit of pressure, but we had a good shape to us,” was Dunne's verdict. “When we got the ball some of our play was excellent retaining the ball. The goal we scored was a fantastic effort from Jake Keegan.”
It was the first occasion this year that Rovers B opted to use their full quota of three outfield players and a goalkeeper from their first team squad, but Dunne did not make an issue of that.
“The only thing I will say is that we knew this could happen from the start of the season. There is a possibility they can use extra first team players, but I thought we coped well enough. For me it shouldn't matter when they use a few extra bodies from the first team. You deal with the players that are there. We could have nicked it at the end because Jake was unlucky with a late header.”
What encouraged Dunne most of all was the manner in which Galway responded to Sean O'Connor's goal for Rovers and Walsh's red card. “We did things right. We had to be disciplined by not leaving things open and chasing the game. We could have nicked it, but overall we have to move on and be happy that we picked up the point when everything is taken into consideration.”
With 10 Galwegians and one Mayoman in the starting XI the visitors' goal was eventually struck by native New Yorker Keegan, who made a dramatic impact as a substitute. The willing American was delighted to open his league account with a sweet 20-yard effort. “It was nice to get my first league goal of the year,” he says. “I scored one in the cup earlier on in the year, but I was happy to score and it is nice to get off the mark.
"The guys had to work very hard defensively throughout the game. They had a lot of possession, but they didn't make too many opportunities. That allowed us stay in the game and when we got an opportunity, we got the goal we needed.”
Keegan believes there is sufficient talent in the Galway squad to overhaul table-toppers Shelbourne's nine point lead. “If we want to win the league, which we do, we need to start picking up wins. We were put in a tough situation early on against Shamrock Rovers, so we weren't able to pick up the three points, but the one we got could be a huge one.
“It is a realistic ambition for us to win the league. That is where we expect to be at the end of the year. We are on a good unbeaten run, we have matched every team we have played. So hopefully we can continue to build on our recent form.