Galway United entertain Athlone Town tomorrow night in Eamon Deacy Park (7.45pm ) knowing their fate in the first division play-offs is virtually sealed. Less certain is the make up of their opponents.
After United’s 1-1 draw away to Treaty United on Friday, Waterford FC secured two wins in four days to ensure now lie in second, with United falling to third. United, however, have a game in hand.
Given the current standings John Caulfield's men are almost certain to face Treaty United over two legs, should they reclaim second, or Longford Town if they remain in third place.
However, these permutations are unlikely to be the focus of the squad who will be keen to put a string of performances and results together over the next three weeks.
The last time United had a win in the play-offs, against Bray Wanderers in the 2020 season, was on the back of a remarkable run of wins. They will therefore be desperate to gather some momentum in the run-up.
Supporters, however, will be forgiven for letting their minds wander towards the play-offs. Foremost in their thoughts will be two damaging defeats away to Longford in this campaign. Contrastingly, United are unbeaten in all seven encounters against Treaty over the past two seasons. Nevertheless, Limerick, who play Derry City in the FAI Cup semi-final on Sunday week, have provided plenty of reminders of their quality. They did so again on Friday when Galwegian Enda Curran added to his impressive tally, turning sharply in the box to give his side the lead. United fought back and restored parity late on by an emphatic Stephen Walsh strike.
Athlone Town too are likely to provide a stern test tomorrow night on the Dyke Road. Although United will be looking for a fourth successive win this season against the Midlanders, there has been an impressive uptick in Athlone's performances and results of late.
Dermot Lennon's side has taken seven points from the last available nine, dispatching Wexford and Cobh and earning a creditable draw against Longford. Ex-United forward Thomas Oluwa and Adam Lennon have both been in rich veins of form and will pose a threat to a United rearguard which hasn't kept a clean sheet in the league since keeping Cork City scoreless in Turner's Cross on July 15.
Rediscovering the defensive meanness that saw United concede a mere four goals across 10 league games in April and May will be paramount should United wish to progress in the play-offs.