Galway United will need a winning response following last Friday's bitterly disappointing SSE Airtricity League premier division defeat against Limerick FC when visiting Oriel Park for a vital clash with champions Dundalk tomorrow (7.45pm ).
While United were struggling to cope at Eamonn Deacy with a vibrant Limerick display, Dundalk drew with Shamrock Rovers at Tallaght Stadium - a result that was sufficient for the Lilywhites to retain the title with three matches to spare.
Two hundred and seventy minutes of action remains for United to preserve top-flight status, and manager Tommy Dunne reckons four points from the next three fixtures might be enough to steer the club to safety. Dundalk, Bray Wanderers, and St Patrick's Athletic are the teams Galway will face, so it will be a demanding stint.
Dunne accepts United's display when soundly beaten by Limerick was "poor". The result ensures Limerick, Drogheda United, Sligo Rovers, Galway, Longford Town, Bray Wanderers, and Derry City are all involved in a heated relegation battle.
“There are results in Drogheda, there are results in every team, so we have to try to pick up at least three or four points between now and the end of the season," Dunne says.
“It's a bit late in the season for wake-up calls. There are three games to go. If you're about wake up calls now, then you have a problem.
“It was a poor performance from start to finish. We just didn't compete properly, didn't play properly, we gave up too many chances through mistakes. The first goal was a mistake and the second goal was people switching off, so there was a lot of things that were way off. It's hugely disappointing.”
When Samuel Oji scrambled an equaliser for United after the break, Galway improved before being rocked by the concession of another soft goal as Limerick's Ian Turner punished a costly lapse in concentration.
“We got back into the game, we didn't look like we were in danger, but then we switched off from a set piece and they went 2-1 up.
“Then we go chasing the game and once you're chasing the game, you're leaving yourself open. Limerick was the better team and completely deserved the three points. At the end of it all, certain players on the pitch for them were up for it and certain players for us weren't.”
Although United have been depleted by injuries throughout the campaign, Dunne is hopeful Kilian Cantwell and Jason Molloy will be available for the trip to Louth.
“Kilian Cantwell should be available for the game, Jason Molloy might be available. Other than that, we've picked up a couple of injuries. Enda Curran is struggling a bit and I think Ryan Connolly has picked up something. We're going to have to do it the hard way and it looks like we always want to do it the hard way. Unless we step up our mindset and our focus, then we're in trouble.”