Galway United travel to Tolka Park tomorrow evening for what is expected to be a tough SSE Airtricity League first division encounter against Shelbourne (7.45pm ).
Although Shels were surprisingly beaten by Cabinteely, Keegan believes it will be difficult to come away with a win.
“It was a big, big shock, because they are a fine side," says Keegan. "Shels have looked excellent. I was eyeing that one up as being one of our toughest games this year.
“It is a tough one, and then we have back-to-back games against teams outside the top six. If we take seven points from those three games, we'd be in a decent position. It is wide open, it really, really is.”
Last Friday United eventually shrugged off a spirited Wexford FC outfit to win 4-1 courtesy of second-half goals from Danny Furlong, Alan Murphy, substitute Carlton Ubaezuonu, and Eoin McCormack. The Tribesmen had struggled initially in the opening period before the introduction of Ubaezuonu and Stephen Kenny altered the complexion of the game significantly.
A change in formation enabled Gary Shanahan’s influence to increase, while Ubaezuonu was a key figure in the closing stages. Manager Shane Keegan acknowledged the slow start, but was encouraged by the response after half-time.
“I was going in at half-time and normally you would try to correct patterns of play at half-time. There were no patterns of play to correct, it was just a loose game and we were a bit quicker. The double change made a big, big difference, it gave us two focal points.
“We got it out to the two wide men as quickly as possible, maybe that helped. As regards impact from substitutes, we couldn't really have asked for much better, could we?”
Keegan believes the depth of the United squad is sufficient to launch a serious promotion bid, highlighting Shanahan’s assist for McCormack’s goal. “That is actually a perfect example of why I thought it would be a good idea to try to turn Gary into a right back,” Keegan says.
“If Gary is playing on the right wing, he often doesn't have enough room to run into. Gary just wants to run all day. When you put him back to right full, he has all that room. What a run. It was absolutely powerful. On top of Carlton and Stephen Kenny doing very well I said to the lads in the dressing room, praising the impact of the squad and the bench.
“To be honest about it, in the Sligo game Conor Melody was probably our best player. At the start of this week Conor Melody, Conor Barry, and Stephen Kenny were all in with a shout. It was going to be one of the three of them. Conor Melody had an exam on Thursday morning, that ruled him out of our shape session and unfortunately for him, he couldn't do the tactical work so I couldn't pick him.
“The guy who was probably most unfortunate to miss out on the starting XI has ended up being an unused sub. That really shows the strength in depth."
• Galway United Friends Co-Op is running a bus to Friday's first division match at Tolka Park, leaving The Dail Bar, Middle Street, at 3.45pm. Seats can be booked by contacting Dominick Walsh 087 9163438 or Ronan Coleman 087 6972823.