An exciting SSE Airtricity League first division season continues to unfold with Galway United facing Cork City at Eamonn Deacy Park tomorrow (7.45pm ).
Friday’s success over Wexford FC at Ferrycarrig Park stretched United’s unbeaten league run to seven matches. Again the depth of United’s squad carried relevance with goalscoring contributions from Padraic Cunningham and Shane Doherty, while Stephen Walsh, Mikie Rowe, and Caoilfhinn O’Dea also featured.
“Wexford were on a bounce, they had won the previous week in the cup, they had drawn with Cork City the week before, they had put a little bit of a run together,” manager John Caulfield says.
“We were conscious of that, but our form had been good. We had a number of players, who came back into the team after missing the Shamrock Rovers cup game the previous week. It was a tight game in the first half.
“We had two goals disallowed which was unusual, we missed a couple of chances. On the stroke of half-time we went one down.
“Obviously at half-time we had to have a chat to get things going in the second half, but to be fair the lads responded brilliantly.
“Podge [Cunningham] came on to get a brilliant goal, as we know Podge can do. Then once we equalised our play in the second half was very good. The intensity was high, our passing and movement was very good.
“Obviously Killian Brouder got the second, Shane Doherty came off the bench, he got a great third goal. Again it was another week where the subs coming off the bench had an impact.
“That is what you need, you need everyone in the squad where the competition is so high, it is very competitive, you need the lads off the bench making the difference when they came on. Thankfully they did.”
Walsh’s drive and desire was evident in the second period with Caulfield acknowledging his effective performance.
“Young Alex Murphy got a knock, he came out at half-time, Walshy came on, he had a superb second half,” Caulfield added.
“His defending was brilliant, he had a lot of one v one defending, he was absolutely brilliant. He was raiding forward down the left side, he had a cracking shot that the 'keeper saved, on the rebound Shane Doherty finished well. All the lads that came in - Podge, Shane Doherty, Mikie Rowe, Caoilfhinn O'Dea, you need that every week.
“You need lads that are at it. Thankfully we have a lot of competitiveness in the squad. You look at the players, everyone is competing for positions. It is good to have people competing for all of the positions, it keeps the standard high.”
Former Cork City boss Caulfield is fully aware of the threat the visitors can pose. “Cork is a powerhouse of League of Ireland football. Colin Healy, a top, top guy and coach,” he says.
“They still have the old heads of Mark McNulty, Stephen Beattie, Gearoid Morrissey, all those experienced lads won the double. They have a lot of players around the club from their Academy, who have come into the first team.
“They have brought in Aaron Bolger, who was over with Cardiff City, even though he is only a young lad he has played a lot of matches around the league. They have brought in Barry Coffey, on loan from Celtic.
“They have beaten Sligo away in the Cup - Sligo near the top of the premier division. It shows what they can do on their day, they have been unlucky in the last number of matches in the league. They have been involved in a lot of draws - games they should possibly should have won.”
Caulfield is encouraged ahead of the remainder of the campaign. "You want the consistency," Caulfield says.
“Winning gives confidence, that is what we are trying to do. We had a difficult first third of the season which can happen when you bring a lot of new players together at the one time. Over the last two and a half months they have gelled together.
“As I keep saying the biggest game is next Friday night. Cork City are coming up, they are brilliant on the counter attack, they sit deep, and they hit you quick. They have a lot of pace.
“If you aren't at it you leave points behind. For us to have a chance of being in the play/offs we must keep driving on and keep winning matches. That is why this is going to be another huge test for us.”