In another attractive SSE Airtricity League premier division encounter, Galway United host table-toppers Cork City at Eamonn Deacy Park tomorrow (7.45pm ).
John Caulfield’s Cork outfit have enjoyed a hugely productive start to the season, winning their first 12 matches and accumulating 36 points. It is a staggering return for the Leesiders, who travel to the west armed with confidence and momentum.
Galway United have been showing signs of progress in recent weeks with Monday’s controversial stalemate against Derry City at the Dyke Road venue ensuring the Tribesmen have now only lost once in 11 competitive fixtures.
Somehow Derry custodian Ger Doherty was only given a yellow card following a third minute hand ball outside the area. Doherty made a string of splendid fine saves in the second period to thwart United, who had been outplayed in the first half.
United boss Shane Keegan was aggrieved at the decision. “The evidence is there for anybody who wants to watch, it was a brilliant save, it just happened to be two or three yards outside the 18 yard box when he made it. A brilliant save, so it was. "I asked him[Derry goalkeeper Ger Doherty] coming off the field what he thought, he assumed the ref was coming over to give him a red card. He couldn't believe it when he didn't get a red card. Obviously the whole game turned on that, the ref just bottled it, he completely and utterly bottled it.
“It is very hard to know what you can say without getting fined by the FAI particularly in relation to referees, but that is not a debate, that is cold hard facts."
Riding our luck
While the Candystripes showed glimpses of their ability initially, Keegan was satisfied with the United response after the restart. “Derry were way on top in the first half, we were riding our luck big time, even though we still had a few chances on the counter,” he says.
“It was a poor first 45, but I thought the second half was really excellent when you think about all the games we have played recently. To be so on top, we changed the shape a bit, that seemed to work quite well because [Aaron] McEneff and [Harry] Monaghan were getting on the ball too easily when they were playing out which was dragging us all over the place.
“We had to try to get a bit tighter on them. Is it a good point or a bad point? It is a bad point considering we would have won the match if the referee had made the right call after three minutes, but then it is only one defeat from our last 11 competitive games.
"We got a few headlines for beating Dundalk, now the plan is to get a few headlines on Friday night by being the first team to topple Cork. We firmly believe we can do that on the back of this.”
Keegan is adamant United can produce a similarly determined and defiant display when Cork hit the Corribside venue tomorrow.
“We will try not to give too much away to Cork City, but when you are playing against a really, really good side with really top footballers, you can go either of two ways trying to do it,” Keegan says.
“The way we went about it in the second half against Derry involves high pressing; the way we went about it against Dundalk was sit way off to try to deny them space. We will try one of those two methods against Cork.”