With the first series of Premier League fixtures completed, a satisfactory 12-point return ensures Galway United will be eager to build on this solid foundation when St Patrick’s Athletic enter Terryland Park tomorrow evening.
Despite the recent defeats against Shamrock Rovers and Cork City, there is sufficient evidence to suggest United can achieve their stated seasonal objective of survival. The opening nine matches featured a defensive solidity, and Galway are now correctly renowned as obdurate opponents.
Manager Ian Foster is content with how Galway are faring. “We need to avoid relegation. That is what I’ve been told to do and that is what my budget is, to avoid relegation. If we take 12 points out of every round, we’ll avoid relegation. I’m delighted with the start we’ve had to the season and now we’ll kick on in the second round and see what we can get.”
Foster took plenty of positives from the manner in which Galway competed against Cork in the second period at Turners Cross.
“ I can take the performance away and be positive about that. A little frustrated, but we’ve come a long way in a short space of time.
“We were probably guilty of being too narrow as a back four. I invite teams down the sides of us. We just didn’t deal with it well enough and conceded from it, but in the second half it was much improved. I just said to up the tempo, deal with the second balls, and be more confident when you’re on the ball, and they were excellent at that.”
Now though United face a Patrick’s outfit with former United boss Jeff Kenna in charge. Galway delivered a dynamic display when torching the Saints in Inchicore on the first night of the campaign, and with Pat’s missing several regulars again, this represents an ideal opportunity for the locals on the Dyke Road.
Having been ineligible due to the terms of his loan arrangement last week, Sean Kelly’s return adds bite to a midfield that will benefit from the return of John Russell, who is on the road back to full fitness. Russell’s promptings from the centre of the park were a key factor in Galway avoiding the drop last year, and Foster will be hoping for a similar mixture of perspiration and inspiration once more.
While last-gasp Terryland Park heartbreak is becoming a recurring theme of Mervue United’s first division adventure, there remains ample reason for optimism.
Mervue’s past five matches have been loaded with purposeful performances with three victories being garnered, and the two losses have been harsh ones against promotion chasers Shelbourne and UCD. That both Dublin teams pocketed goals at the death offers a reminder of the domestic game’s cruelty, but Mervue are learning briskly.
Johnny Glynn has guided Mervue effectively, and Saturday’s trip to the RSC will be the latest assignment in an exacting schedule. Waterford United have been in blistering form earning points and plaudits during a five-game winning streak. Stephen Henderson has proven to be an astute operator at this level before when steering Cobh Ramblers to promotion, and the Blues intend to be heavily involved in the race to obtain top flight status. Mervue’s aspirations are not as lofty just yet, but with belief growing, Glynn’s charges have the potential to disturb any club in that hunt.
•Mervue United AFC will hold a ceremony to mark the opening of its new football cages and floodlights tomorrow at 7pm. All are welcome to attend.