Nine Airtricity League first division games remain for Galway FC with tomorrow's vital encounter against Shelbourne at Eamonn Deacy Park, promising to be a lively affair.
Third-placed Galway trail Shels, who lie in second, by four points so this clash can certainly be classed as crucial, considering Wexford Youths in fourth are quietly confident of obtaining a promotion/relegation play off place too.
Vinny Faherty's splendid hat-trick inside the opening 19 minutes enabled Galway to seize control at the Dyke Road venue against Cobh last Friday. Jake Keegan's late strike embellished a 4-1 win that leaves Galway in a decent position should Shels, or current standard bearers Longford, hit the self destruct button.
Manager Tommy Dunne was encouraged by how his squad dealt with the heavy burden of expectancy when dismissing Cobh's gutsy challenge. “We felt it was always going to be a difficult game in a sense,” Dunne admitted. “You’re expected to win, and win comfortably. For us, we feel that Cobh Ramblers have improved immensely since the start of the season.
“From our side of things, we got off to a great start, we picked up three goals in 20 minutes. Vinny in fairness to him finished them all very well, I was delighted with him and his aptitude and attitude.”
With each and every match assuming huge significance from now until October Dunne wants his team to maintain high levels of concentration all of the time. “Overall, it was a good start but then we got a little bit sloppy again,” Dunne remarked about a brief spell in which Cobh encountered some joy. “Our concentration sometimes lets us down, but we’ve got to work on that side of it. It’s coming into that stage of the season now where results are important and that was a good result and it sets up the Shels game nicely.”
Dunne was keen to make a defensive recruit during the July transfer window so the capture of the physically imposing Paddy Barrett, who has impressed in the Waterford United shirt this season, bodes well. “It’s important that you have that little bit of strength in depth when you’re going into the run in,” Dunne says. “We’re going to pick up little injuries here and there, you don’t know with cup games, you might have a replay.”
Waterford native Paddy Barrett, 21, spoke about the considerable talent and potential that exists in the west. "I met with Tommy Dunne on Saturday and signed up,” Barrett commented. “I mainly play centre back, during the year I've also played right back and centre midfield as well but centre back would be my most consistent position.
"When we came up to play Galway at Eamonn Deacy Park they really showed how good a side they were. Coming off the pitch after the game, you realised that they're a great side and that they're well able to play. Not many teams will come up here and take points off them."
Shels, though, did precisely that on April 11 when a last gasp Dylan Connolly goal earned them a splendid away triumph Corribside. That tie demonstrated just how rugged and resourceful Johnny McDonnell's charges can be so Galway will be aware of the Dubliners' diligence.
Despite the occasional disappointing draw, Galway have only lost once in 13 League fixtures, since then confirming Dunne's Tribesmen are a capable side when the mood strikes. With an arduous trip to Ferrycarrig Park scheduled for Friday August 8 a revealing week looms for Galway, who approach these two upcoming critical examinations with cautious optimism.