Though Mervue United have suffered two defeats in the past fortnight, there has been enough graft in their displays to suggest that an expensively-assembled Sporting Fingal can be rattled at Terryland Park tomorrow (7.45pm ).
Johnny Glynn’s charges have dealt adequately with a harsh sequence of fixtures against UCD, Waterford United, and Fingal which has tested Mervue’s resolve and resources. Now, having settled into life in the League of Ireland, they face their greatest test yet, according to manager Johnny Glynn.
“Sporting Fingal are one of only four full-time professional teams in the country and have a playing budget on a par with the top clubs in the premier division. They will present us with a huge challenge, but one the players are relishing as they test themselves against the best.
“For the third week in a row we are playing against one of the top three teams in the division and so far we have held our own against these teams. Despite not picking up points, we have competed well and it is only our lack of experience that has cost us points,” he says.
Mervue go into the Fingal match without centre half Damian O Rourke who will be out for two to three eeks with an achilles injury. The list also includes Noel Mc Donnell, Ger Mc Grath, Nigel Keady, and Ryan Griffin.
"Despite this we are looking forward to welcoming the favourites to win the league this year, Sporting Fingal, the second newest team in the league of Ireland after of course Mervue United,” says John Glynn.
“The match is eagerly anticipated by all of the squad to test ourselves against the only fully professsional outfit in this league.”
Even when points have not been taken, Mervue have competed with more illustriousw and decorated sides so Fingal will know that a demanding 90 minutes awaits on the Dyke Road.
Encouraged by two wins on the spin, Galway United will venture to Oriel Park tomorrow armed with optimism.
The manner in which St Patrick’s Athletic and Derry City were defeated during the past week offered proof that Ian Foster’s guidance is benefiting Galway. So solid at the back, and particularly dangerous now that Jay O’Shea has been unleashed in his preferred withdrawn attacking role, United have the cut of a decent top flight team.
With Barry Ryan’s vast goalkeeping experience Galway’s promising defence is being assisted. That back four of Seamus Conneely, Shane Guthrie, Garry Breen, and Iarfhlaith Daveron has been commendably resilient throughout the campaign. Conneely and Daveron are capable in the full back roles, while Guthrie and Breen’s willingness to attack the ball is refreshing.
Galway’s midfield combination have altered somewhat, but Foster demands an honest work rate allied to an eagerness to keep possession.
On Oriel Park’s plastic surface Galway need to be clever with their distribution so John Russell’s return provides a fillip. Foster insists that Galway will approach the fixture with their usual objectives.
"It is 11 v 11, and we will go out to try to win the game,”he says. “ The pitch is a pitch, everybody has to go there, and play, and there is nothing we can do about that. We aren't focusing on it too much, it is a surface I wouldn't choose to play on, but we have to go there and play on it. We will try to play our normal football on it."
Sean Kelly’s absence for up to six weeks deprives Galway of a robust anchorman in the centre of the park, while Daveron and Breen both took knocks during Monday’s 1- 0 League Cup triumph over Derry. That came through a 35th minute goal from Dave Cooke who was quickest to react after O’Shea’s free kick was blocked by the wall.
Foster was satisfied with Galway’s performance. "I am delighted. It is great to be in the next round of the League Cup, and winning games is always good for confidence.
"It would have been nice to get a few more goals, but they were very dogged. We worked hard to create opportunities, and unfortunately we didn't get more than one, but I am delighted with the win. It keeps the run going, and it is good for our home form that we have won another game.”
Maintaining such a consistent level is Galway’s errand in Louth tomorrow if the team wants to thwart Dundalk and add to their account.