Murphy keen for United youngsters to learn fast as Drogheda visit the west

While early in the SSE Airtricity League first division season, there is no denying the importance of Friday’s Eamonn Deacy Park fixture involving Galway United and Drogheda United (7.45pm ).

Alan Murphy’s youthful team has been competitive in all encounters so far, but the United boss is eager to add points to the account quickly.

Last Saturday’s tussle against Longford Town was postponed due to a waterlogged pitch at the City Calling Stadium so Murphy wants his team to produce against the Boynesiders.

“Without a doubt we want to get points on the board,” Murphy says. “The boys are chomping at the bit to get back into competitive action.

“It obviously wasn't ideal last weekend that the game was postponed, but it gives us that bit of added appetite to bring a performance to Eamonn Deacy Park on Friday night.

“Largely we have performed in games. Yes, Bray, in parts, but we didn't live up to what I would expect from us.

“We had a lot of possession and should have scored twice. The performance was there at times, but this Friday night we are going to look for a performance against a Drogheda team that will be licking their wounds a bit following last weekend. It is going to be a dangerous one.

“Again it is one our players are really excited to be involved in. The tradition Drogheda have and the squad they have on paper it is going to be a really tough ask for my young squad to perform against them.

“That is the great thing that we have these challenges week-in, week-out. That only can be beneficial for us in the long term.”

One player Murphy must plan without is Donal Higgins, who will be involved with the Republic of Ireland U18 squad against Turkey this weekend.

“Donal has done really well since we brought him in during the window with the U17s two years ago,” Murphy says.

“He has really pushed on since. When you look at Donal and Colin Kelly, who was on standby to go to Turkey this week with the U18s, that is the double edged sword. But I'm glad because it is what we are about. We are about Project DNA, bringing through young players, giving them that exposure and hoping they can grow and develop from it.

“I think we have seen so far in the limited amount of games we have played that there will be other players in the next six months putting their hand up to say they also warrant a look.”

It is proving to be a highly competitive first division, but Murphy is adamant his squad can remain in contention for a top four finish.

“The whole league is tight,” Murphy says. “The results show every team has a chance to perform. You look at Shels, they played Wexford and couldn't break Wexford down in the first half. You look at the previous encounter when Cobh put six or seven past them. It is going to be that kind of a league. Look at Cabinteely, who are no surprise to me in terms of what they are doing - with the squad from last year, and what they have added."

Murphy cannot see any team winning the league at a canter.

"It is early days. I think it is really competitive, and five or six teams, at a minimum, are going to be fighting it out for the top four spots.”

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