Over the past couple of years Connacht derbies involving Sligo Rovers and Galway United have rarely been short on importance, and tomorrow’s encounter at the Showgrounds carries real significance.
Hampered by injuries throughout the season, Sligo surprisingly find themselves in a lowly league position, but there was enough dash in Tuesday’s stylish success over St Patrick’s Athletic at Richmond Park to leave the Bit O’Red heartened. United’s Ian Foster was an interested spectator in Inchicore as Raf Cretaro bagged a brace to steer Sligo to a vital victory.
Sligo’s performance was splendid as they coped admirably without regular goalkeeper Richard Brush who will miss the remainder of the season with a fractured wrist. Ciaran Kelly spent a spell at Terryland Park with Galway and fared well in the capital when the Saints were hammered.
With Gavin Peers and Alan Keane providing a solid central defensive unit, and Conor O’Grady holding firm in the centre of the park, there was a grit to Sligo’s display which pleased manager Paul Cook.
"It is not easy when you go to Dublin for must-win games because there is not a lot of room for error. We worked hard and we kept a good shape, and to come away from home and win 2 - 0 is a big win.”
Galway, too, have been burdened by injuries, and though Seamus Conneely is ruled out due to Republic of Ireland u-21 commitments, Foster welcomes back Shane Guthrie and Garry Breen. Benin international Romauld Boco is on international duty, and Foster expects a tricky test. “Cookie has got all his big hitters back. I know Boco is missing, but Seamus Conneely is missing for us as well, so that evens things up a little bit. It will be a good game, an interesting game. I imagine that they’ll be desperate to get all three points.”
Conneely’s versatility has been crucial for Galway this year, and Foster is delighted with the progress the youngster is making. “Credit to him because he’s been fantastic for me all season. He’s got a great attitude no matter where I ask him to play. Whether it is at right back, centre half, holding midfield, he does a great job for me. We’ll miss him next week. I think he’s only missed one game up in Drogheda early this season. He just had a slight knock and I asked him to take a break. We will miss him, but it’s an opportunity for somebody else.”
•Galway United Supporters’ Trust will be running a bus to Friday evening’s match at the Showgrounds, departing from Fibber Magees, Eyre Square, at 4.30pm. Contact Ronan 087-6972823.
A Pat Hoban goal ensured Mervue United trotted away from Station Road last Friday armed with a smashing victory. Johnny Glynn will be hoping his squad sprinkled with u-20s can maintain that form when Longford Town visit Terryland Park tomorrow. Longford thumped midland rivals Athlone Town on Saturday, and on their most recent visit west dumped Galway United out of the FAI Cup. Still Mervue have sufficient ability to take some kind of dividend from the game as they seek to put more distance between themselves and basement boys Kildare.
Manager Johnny Glynn says the match prsents Mervue with an opportunity to get ahead of Longford and stay in touch with Athlone Town.
“With only 5 games left in this Mervue's first season, we are not at all content with just staying up. The challenge from now till the end of the season is to finish above Longford and Athlone. We will pick from a strong squad which includes nine u-20 players, the youngest squad in the division.”