Another important SSE Airtricity League first division encounter against Bray Wanderers at Eamonn Deacy beckons tomorrow for Galway United with manager John Caulfield excited about the potential within his squad.
Last Saturday evening United registered a vital 0-4 victory over Cobh Ramblers at St Colman’s Park with Ruairi Keating netting a brace and substitute Padraic Cunningham also scoring for the second successive game.
Keating and Cunningham’s form offers a source of optimism for Caulfield. “In any season you need to score goals, but we had been creating chances,” Caulfield says. “Centre forwards they live off scoring goals, it gives them that confidence.
“We hadn't done it for a month, was I panicking? Absolutely not because I have a bit of experience, but I knew the lads were working so hard in training. I know myself from being a forward player that sometimes you are trying too hard, and you just need a break of the ball to go your way.
“Looking at the last couple of games the lads have got five between them. So from that point of view long may it continue, but we had been creating chances.
“We just need to put them in the back of the net. We have a huge game this week against Bray. Hopefully after the last two weeks the way the performances have been that we can continue that.”
Ultimately Caufield was satisfied United carved out a victory against a typically spirited Cobh outfit. “To be fair to them they stayed in the game and they battled hard,” Caulfield remarks. “We had a couple of opportunities to get a second goal, but Podge Cunningham came on and had an instant impact making a fantastic run which led to him being taken down for the second penalty.
“He did brilliantly for the third goal and obviously he scored the fourth from a penalty too. It was great to keep a clean sheet and it was great for the lads to knock in a few goals. The most important thing in the bigger context it brings us into the top part of the table.
“Even though it is only early days, we are only four points off the top. It is still early, but I said in the last couple of weeks that the performances had turned. Saturday night was an indication of that too.”
Some unfortunate injuries ensured the depth of United’s squad was examined, but Caulfield was delighted with how his players responded. “You need options to change your system, to change your tactics, depending on certain matches,” Caulfield says.
“More importantly you need competition for places. Look at the weekend, obviously Francely Lomboto is out long term, but still we were without Conor O'Keeffe, Maurice Nugent, Shane Doherty.
“Maurice and Shane were two guys who had to pull out the day before the match so from that point of view it is great that other lads are chomping at the bit to get a start. It was Mikey Place and Wilson Waweru's first start, it was only Chris Horgan's second start.
“They have come in and they are playing through their skin to stay in the team. The lads coming off the bench Mikie Rowe, Colin Kelly, Podge, and Carlton Ubaezuonu all made impacts. That is what you need, competition for places.
“You need that when the lads get an opportunity to come in, that they perform to the level we expect them to. It is all healthy and good. At the moment, while you never want players to be injured, it is showing that players replacing them are standing up and doing the business.”
Bray, who have drawn five of their first six fixtures in 2021, will be afforded the utmost respect by Caulfield.
“Defensively they are very good, they have a strong defence with Aaron Barry at the back and he marshals them very well,” Caulfield says.
“It is another game for us to look forward to, but we have to be at it right from the very start. We saw last week and the week before that if we are at it from the start we have a great chance, but if we aren't you leave points behind you. It will be no different this week because Bray are one of the top sides in the division.
“There is a long way to go. This league will come down to the last six or seven games, the most important thing is that when you get to the middle of September is that you are in that pack.”