As a year filled with dramatic twists and turns enters its final chapter Galway United’s need for a Terryland Park win is inestimable.
By the banks of the Lee, Cork City have endured a similarly turbulent spell, but Alan Matthews will bring a playing squad packed with tidy exponents to the Dyke Road tomorrow evening.
Though Cork’s League challenge has not materialised due to the enforced departure of Dave Mooney, City remain a capable outfit when in the groove.
Injuries have disrupted the Rebels’ rhythm, and recent statistics suggest that premier division motivation is waning for 2008. Before Cork thumped UCD last Friday they had won two of their previous seven contests ,which is a moderate return.
During that period Cork’s future was deeply uncertain, but the off-field tidings from down south now feature some hope. Between the white chalk lines Alan Matthews’ charges were devastated to be beaten on penalties in their FAI Cup quarter-final replay at the Brandywell as the locals remained calm under pressure. It will be interesting to see whether Cork can summon an instant response in a mundane battle for them in Galway, but within Matthews lurks a fierce competitor worthy of the utmost respect.
Galway will be eager to perform in front of a passionate audience tomorrow and are emboldened by their past four displays. These performances offer plenty of optimism, ensuring manager Jeff Kenna has cut a content figure as Galway attempt to climb the table.
When Galway were annihilated by Cobh Ramblers the team were under pressure, but they have responded with admirable grit, eking out draws against Shamrock Rovers and Drogheda United. The Hoops should have been overturned, but there was a pleasing zest in Galway’s play. This was demonstrated again when dividing the spoils with Drogheda as United’s enthusiastic approach earned a point.
Galway’s improvement owes much to the combative central midfield endeavours of Ciaran Foley and John Lester, who are providing the team with an extra layer of security. Alan Keane’s mixture of pace and aggression has aided a defence that was leaking preventable goals, while Seamus Conneely has been sound at right full.
Elsewhere the United starting XI is flecked with the quality of John Russell and Jay O’Shea. Russell has the ability to clip intelligent passes and has been relevant to Galway’s resurgence while O’Shea is attracting admirers from across the Irish sea.
Leeds United are among the clubs to be monitoring O’Shea who has earned inclusion in Don Givens’ Republic of Ireland under 21 squad for an October 14 friendly with Lithuania. Considering that panel is sprinkled with competent footballers such as John Joe O’Toole, Owen Garvan, James McCarthy, Sean Scanell, and Keith Treacy, who is breaking through at premier league level with Blackburn Rovers, it is encouraging to see O’Shea mixing with such exalted company.
There is no disguising the fact that Galway crave a victory and O’Shea might be able to flash a timely reminder of his vast potential.
FAI Cup action
Galway United has secured a home draw in the semi-finals of the FAI Cup. United's opponents will be Derry City who overcame Cork City on Tuesday night on penalties in their take quarter-final replay at the Brandywell.
The match will take place on Sunday October 26 at 3.15pm, and tickets are on sale in Zhivago Records, Shop Street, and from the Galway United Office at Terryland Park. They will be sold on a first-come first-served basis.
Manager Jeff Kenna believes United have a great chance of progressing to their first FAI Cup final since they last won it in 1991.
"I'm delighted to get a home draw which is sure to create a buzz around the city in the lead up to this game. Anything can happen in cup football – with a strong Galway crowd behind us we have a great chance."