While few would dispute the gap in quality which exists between the SSE Airtricity League premier and first divisions, Galway FC will still head for the capital tomorrow hopeful of causing an FAI Ford Cup surprise against UCD.
The students remain a team capable of passing the ball with commendable accuracy, but there is sufficient talent in the Galway ranks to cause them problems. Obviously the fact that the fixture is Galway's fourth away game in a row will have an impact following recent trips to Cobh, Wexford, and Dublin in the past fortnight.
Following the UCD encounter only one more match is currently scheduled before the mid-season break when Wexford Youths visit Eamonn Deacy Park on Friday June 13. Getting positive results in the upcoming two tussles is within Galway's remit and manager Tommy Dunne was thrilled by how well the Tribesmen performed when defeating first division table toppers Shelbourne 4-2 at Tolka Park last Friday. “To sum it up, it was a gutsy performance,” said Dunne.
“ We got a dream start with the goal, but I thought we looked a little bit leggy and a little bit sluggish, finding it difficult to get our lungs going and get moving.
"In fairness Shels were quite sharp and slick in the first half and they caused us problems without creating a huge amount of chances, but we kept digging away. At half time we just said, you've got to dig deep, and in the second half, they were brilliant. From one to 11, they worked extremely hard, putting their bodies on the line.”
Throughout the campaign Dunne has repeatedly praised the drive and desire of his players so earning a statement victory in Drumcondra supplied an injection of momentum and confidence.
“I'm delighted. It shows they have the character and they have the bottle for the fight,” Dunne said. “Without getting carried away, we're still four behind. I know that we have a good chance with that group because the honesty and integrity from the whole group is fantastic and I thought the support were brilliant as well, getting behind the team from start to finish.
“I'd like to congratulate the lads for their work rate and their effort from the start of the season until now and, if they keep that up, then they'll be giving themselves every opportunity to do well in the season.”
Now a Cup clash with UCD looms and it promises to be an interesting collision at the campus venue. UCD boss Aaron Callaghan has been focusing on improving the students' defensive record and they posted a clean sheet in Friday's scoreless draw with Bray Wanderers, but then conceded five when Dundalk easily dismissed their challenge at Oriel Park.
Being safe and solid is key in a knock-out competition so Dunne is buoyed that his Galway squad is developing. “We look like a team that's not as naive, we're not making the silly little decisions that were costing us,” Dunne said.
“We want the team to play an attractive brand of football and sometimes you're going to have to accept the mistakes here and there if you're looking to play, but they've got to recognise and be aware when it's time to play and when it's not and they're learning that.”
•Galway United Supporters’ Trust os running a bus to Fridays FAI Cup match at Belfield. The bus depart from The Dail Bar, Middle Street, Galway, at 4pm. To book a seat contact Ronan Coleman 087-6972823.