It has been a challenging few weeks for Galway United FC, having lost touch with Cork City at the top of the first division and suffered late heartbreak against UCD in the FAI Cup.
United now find themselves in a bye-week, a break that manager John Caulfield views with positivity.
“I think, in the circumstances, the week off is a good thing. We have gone through a tough few weeks. I feel it is a good time to recharge the batteries and to reassess. We've had [Killian] Brouder out, [Conor] O'Keeffe out, [Ronan] Manning and [Mikie] Rowe are just back.”
Caulfield is enthused therefore that crucial players will have an extra week to get fitter and stronger. It is a hope he also shares for some more recent recruits to the squad.
“It gives the likes of [Bastien] Hery and [Rob] Manley more opportunity to get up to speed with full-time football, with the harder training and with the intensity that we play at.”
Overall the goal seems to be to use this week to get the confidence back in his team. Given the injuries, suspensions and squad turnover that marked recent weeks, key to Caulfield's ambition is the chance to get his best side together on the pitch. It is hoped this platform will provide the opportunity to recapture form and a confidence as they prepare for the strong likelihood of play-off football.
The standards required to progress will be evident in this six games to come. In the coming weeks United will face Treaty United, Wexford FC and Longford Town, all sides in the play-off mix. This is as well as hosting a Cork City side keen to clinch the league. Preserving the positives from the UCD display is chief among Caulfield's ambitions in the lead up to the trip to Cobh on Friday week.
“My gut feeling on the night, particularly in the second half, we played really well, we were the dominant team and we looked like the team that was going to win the match. Unfortunately, that incident happened at the end of the match where we lost a little bit of concentration.”
Despite the cup setback, the focus in the club this season has always been promotion.
“While we would have loved to have gone forward to the next round, I think in the bigger context with all the powerhouses in the Premier [Division] still in the cup, to progress much further was probably going to be difficult.
“I think the important thing for ourselves is that Rowe and Manning came on and they did well. I felt it was a much better performance from a number of players.”
The importance of the play-offs was uppermost in the manager’s assessment of the game, particularly with the possibility of UCD being involved in the playoff picture.
“I think from our own point of view the priority is to get our form back, so when we do get to the play-offs we are at our best. Playing the likes of UCD lets you know that there’s not much between all of the teams, but when you play teams like that, you have to be at your best.”