Galway United face two away SSE Airtricity League first division fixtures against Athlone Town (tomorrow ) and UCD (Monday ).
John Caulfield’s first match ended in a harsh 2-5 FAI Cup second-round defeat to Shelbourne at Eamonn Deacy Park, but the new United boss was encouraged by the determination shown.
Ultimately Shelbourne’s superior power and resources counted in the closing stages even though there was nothing wrong with United’s attitude and application. Indeed United spurned a couple of gilt-edged opportunities early on, while some controversial decisions also tested the home side.
“It certainly wasn't a 5-2 game," says Caulfield. "I thought Shels were good and strong, but we had a glorious chance in the match to go one up.
"Then obviously we got the penalty kick, missed it, and on another night the 'keeper would have been sent off. So we gave away a soft free kick, a bad goal, and went in one nil down at half-time.“
Although encouraged by the first half, Caulfied says the players did not take enough responsibility in the first half.
"That is what we had asked the lads. In the second half we came out of the blocks and we were really, really good - passing the ball and using our pace.”
Opportunistic strikes from Enda Curran and Mikey Place ensured United levelled in the closing stages before Shelbourne finished strongly.
“Enda got a goal to get us back in the game, we were really dominant, I thought,” Caulfield stated about the third quarter. “We gave away another goal, and then came back into it when Mikey makes it two all. At two all I thought we were going to win the match. I thought we were playing really well and causing them lots of problems.“
Shelbourne, he says, were rocked, but the big learning is that United handed Shelbourne four goals. However, there were many positives, he says.
"Killian Brouder playing his first match back, Kevin Farragher beside him, just back from injury, and Enda up top. The lads just worked so hard. The only disappointing thing was that in the last 10 minutes we just dropped our heads and gave them another goal. That was just a lack of confidence, but overall lots of very good play, lots in the game I thought we did really well.
Caulfield is adamant the trip to the midlands on Friday carries huge importance for Galway United. “The biggest game of the season for me now is next Friday night against Athlone,” Caulfield says. “We haven't won a game all season and that is a game we have to target, to try to win.
"I was very encouraged because a lot of the stuff we worked on during the week came off. There is plenty of work to be done. Athlone is the one, my focus was always on that game next Friday night. We need to see can we get our first win of the season.”