Galway United face Limerick FC in an FAI Cup quarter-final at Eamonn Deacy Park tomorrow evening (7.45pm ).
Manager Shane Keegan will be hoping for a better start than they produced last weekend against Bohemians. United were fortunate to only trail by a goal at the break, but thanks to substitute Padraic Cunningham they netted a leveller for a draw.
After the restart United improved dramatically with another replacement, Kevin Devaney, impressing.
“It was very frustrating, why we started so slowly, I don't know,” Keegan said. “Bohemians are a good side, don't get me wrong, I'm not showing them any disrespect, but we made them look like Barcelona. They were playing fantastic football, but I don't know how much of that was to how we were letting them play. Naturally enough we had to have a bit of a pop in the dressing room at half-time. Obviously we made a change to the system and maybe we had got it wrong a little bit in the first half.
“Kevin had only trained once fully in the previous two weeks and we didn't think he would be able for a start, but he kind of showed us up when we threw him in. He was fantastic, it was night and day the second half compared with the first half. Going back looking at the stats we came out at five nil in goalscoring chances in the second half. We were disappointed not to win it, but in saying that we could have been four nil down at half-time.”
Keegan acknowledged Devaney’s vital contribution for United. “He was excellent,” Keegan said. “That was probably Kevin's second time being on the bench all season long. In both situations it was because we didn't think he was fit enough. He certainly had a sort of anger about him almost when he came on at half-time, that he was annoyed I hadn't started him.
“That is exactly the way you show your anger when you haven't been picked in the team when you believe you should have been picked in the team. To make your point in that manner was brilliant from Kev. Everybody upped their performance in the second half. You are applauding the second half performance, but we do have to ask questions of ourselves for the first half. We just cannot allow that to happen again.
“Even looking the GPS numbers, three or four players the number of sprints they attempted in the second half was double what they attempted in the first half. You can praise that level of work rate, but also question why we weren't at that level of intensity from the off.”
Debutant Niall Maher was solid at right back and Keegan felt United has some depth once more. “He is a great bit of stuff, we had hoped to have him available the week before for the cup game because he trained fantastically all of that week,” Keegan commented about former Bolton Wanderers and Bury youngster Maher.
“It is just great to have him on board. The one plus from him not being available was it meant we had to throw Aaron Conway in from the start in an unfamiliar position. He is another one that could feel aggrieved not to have retained his place because he was that good against Pat's.
“He is very much a natural centre back, but it means we have a lot of competition for places all across the back. Gary Kinneen is back from being away with the Irish Universities, he trained very well on Tuesday. We have gone from looking a little bit bare to having lots of competition again which is what we will need between now and the end of the season.”
Now a significant Cup tie beckons Corribside with Keegan hugely aware of what is at stake. “The amount of incentives in terms of winning on Friday are endless really,” Keegan says.
“The primary aim is to maintain our status in this division, but if you got to the end of the season whereby you had managed to do enough to stay up and got into an FAI Cup Final to play in Europe the following year, you would be looking back saying what a season that was. That is how fine the margins are, it could swing from being a horrible season, if we don't have a big two or three weeks to being a fantastic season if we do.”