A critical SSE Airtricity League premier division relegation battle is scheduled for tomorrow evening when Galway United face Sligo Rovers at Eamonn Deacy Park (7.45pm ).
Last Friday goals from Kevin Devaney and Stephen Folan secured a vital victory for United over Derry City, and now Shane Keegan’s charges host the Bit O’Red at the Dyke Road venue.
Following their disappointing FAI Cup quarter-final exit to Limerick FC, Keegan was thrilled with the gutsy response from United’s pumped up players. “When you lose a game inevitably supporters might doubt their team a little bit, but I would argue it is almost impossible to doubt the mental strength of this team,” Keegan says.
“Readymade excuses are there for us, the loss of Lee Grace, some of the refereeing decisions, the injury loss of Jonah Ayunga. We have so many readymade excuses for the lads to say 'this is why it all went wrong'.
“There is just an absolute determination that we are going to come through all those blows, big and all as each and every one of those have been. We keep bouncing back, just when everybody is ready to write us off each time. I think their mental strength and character is unquestionable.”
Keegan was an interested spectator at Finn Park in Ballybofey on Saturday when Sligo Rovers, aided by a goal from former United striker Vinny Faherty, defeated Finn Harps.
“It is an important game and I can't appeal enough to supporters to be as loud as possible on the night,” Keegan states.
“I appeal to supporters to get there as much as they can in numbers. I was in Ballybofey and the Sligo support was big in numbers and loud in voice. We have to make sure that we aren't outvoiced by opposition supporters in a home game, it is a massive, massive game.
“I'd say you are looking at a minimum of 500 Sligo fans arriving in town, we need to be outnumbering them three to one. We also need to be drowning them out with how noisy we are in the stands. We need the support to get behind us for 90 minutes regardless of whether we are in front or behind, to just help us get over the line.”
David Cawley, Gavan Holohan, and Rory Hale made a rich contribution against the Candystripes according to Keegan. “Every one of the games are huge from here on in, so it is fair enough to say the ones against the teams in and around us in the table are six pointers; they have extra significance,” Keegan says.
“Our league form is very good, we weren't happy with the performance against Limerick in the FAI Cup. In a strange way the Limerick performance could be the best thing that happened because we had a deep enough chat and conversation after about why we were so poor. We said to ourselves that if it happened against Derry we could say good luck to the premier division.
“It has refocused everybody and given everybody a shake that it just wasn't good enough. We were really looking for a massive response, I thought we got that.
“Our midfield three in particular, they were poor against Limerick, they knew themselves. Limerick was probably their poorest performance of the year, but thankfully I thought the three of them were outstanding and were the winning of it for us really.”
A similarly dynamic display will be necessary from the Tribesmen.