Worrying times for United

With three teams being relegated from this year's SSE Airtricity League Premier Division these are worrying times for Galway United, who are currently rooted to the bottom of the table.

Last Friday's loss at Maginn Park Buncrana against Derry City was United's third defeat on the spin ensuring Shane Keegan's side are now last in the standings once more.

United conceded two soft early goals before a Gary Shanahan effort gave the visitors hope, but Derry still carved out a victory.

There is no competitive football domestically until next week again, but United have plenty to ponder ahead of their remaining 16 fixtures in the top flight.

Ultimately there has not been much wrong with United's attitude or application, but two wins have been posted from 17 matches. That is a hugely disappointing statistic for United, who have been competitive throughout the campaign, drawing eight.

Being gritty, though, will not be enough to guarantee survival so the Saturday June 18 tussle away to Sligo Rovers at the Showgrounds is loaded with significance for both teams.

Keegan remains a popular figure with supporters and the players, who admire his enthusiastic and modern approach to coaching and management.

The former Wexford Youths boss is working hard to ensure United recapture the form and dynamism that was evident a matter of weeks ago when they climbed from the foot of the table into ninth position.

Disappointing defeats to Shamrock Rovers, Bohemians, and the Candystripes mean United require positive results when the action recommences.

United have offered glimpses of what they can achieve, especially during the success over Dundalk and draw with Cork City. Ironically that was the only time Cork have failed to win in 2017 and United deserved to divide the spoils with the runaway leaders.

What United had in both those games was a solid base with Lee Grace, who has been most impressive, immense anchoring the defence alongside Stephen Folan.

Alex Byrne demonstrated what he can give the team in a pivotal central midfield role against Cork and needs to be utilised more regularly now that the stakes are piled high.

Further up the pitch, Ronan Murray has netted six goals in 16 appearances confirming his ability with a string of defiant displays.

Another encouraging aspect has been United’s tendency to bag late goals in clashes against St Patrick’s Athletic, Limerick, Drogheda United, Dundalk, and Finn Harps.

Those displays confirmed the spirit and stamina that exists within the group, but the challenge is for United to start setting the agenda more frequently, to try to seize control. Worryingly in 17 matches United have scored first on two occasions, and while some of the comebacks have been stirring, this issue needs to be rectified.

Reaching the EA Sports Cup semi-final is an achievement and the home tie against Dundalk in August promises to be interesting on Monday, August 7.

Keegan will do his utmost to prepare United for the mission to avoid the drop, but the rest of June will be a hugely revealing period with Sligo, Bray Wanderers, Dundalk, and St Patrick's Athletic providing the opposition.

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