Galway United have encountered plenty of bother at the Showgrounds, and Saturday's contest against Sligo Rovers promises to be particularly revealing.
Having registered a win over Bray Wanderers, thanks largely to a smashing performance from Karl Sheppard, Galway will travel the N17 intent on rattling a Sligo side that has drawn with Shamrock Rovers and Sporting Fingal.
Avoiding defeat against those two outfits is a sign of Sligo's resilience, and, considering they will feature former Galway players Alan Keane and Iarfhlaith Davoren, this fixture will not be short of bite or bark. When ex-Sligo boss Sean Connor brought Bohemians and Dundalk to the north west, he received feisty receptions, and it ought to be similarly edgy at the weekend.
Forced to construct a squad with a limited budget, Connor has stitched a reasonable panel of players together considering the monetary constraints, although attracting a frontrunner is still a target.
"We’re working hard on signing another striker, we certainly need one. We could do with a couple, but at the end of the day, my budget’s my budget and there wasn’t a massive crowd here against Bray to give us a chance to really expand the squad.
“What we have is a decent starting XI, but once we go outside that, we’re weakening our team and we don’t have any options to change the game."
Stephen O'Donnell's availability following suspension does give Connor a decision to make. Gary Curran and Ciaran Foley dovetailed well in the opening period against Bray, and both may even earn inclusion in a reshaped team. Curran's willingness to wander into attacking areas was a feature of the Bray success, and Connor is adamant the two midfielders have much to offer the Terryland Park club.
"Both those guys have played for me at Sligo Rovers. I don’t think you’re ever rejuvenating Ciaran Foley, I think he’s a very good player. I think he left here for his own reasons. Rejuvenating Gary Curran is very important, Jamie McKenzie is a young player who has a lot to learn but has a lot of potential. He made some mistakes against Bray but he also showed his pace. There’s one or two players like that whose careers we are trying to resurrect to try to get them performing to the level we think they are capable of.
"I thought Gary worked hard. I thought he tired a bit in the second half, but his use of the ball was good. He kept the shape well and I think the first goal was very much down to his reaction. I had Gary as a teenager in Sligo and he should be a more established player than he is. It’s my job to try to get him back on track and get him producing. Gary’s a very good passer of the ball if you can get him on the ball."
That ultimately will determine how Galway fare in the north west. Conor O'Grady and Richie Ryan are likely to form a physical duo in the centre of the park for Sligo, so real interest surrounds how Galway can deal with their enthusiasm. Providing Galway can match O'Grady and Ryan's high determination levels, this match should be highly competitive. Denying Sligo victory would represent a satisfactory evening's work for the visitors.
Galway United Supporters’ Trust isrunning a bus to Saturday’s premier division match at the Showgrounds, departing from the Marriott Hotel, Headford Road at 4.30pm. To book a seat contactRonan 087-6972823. GUST buses are for members only. GUST membership costs €5. Membership forms are available on-line at www.galwayunitedfc.net, and on Saturday’s bus. Galway United season tickets will be on sale in Sligo, as will Champions League draw tickets. Season tickets are also available from the Galway United office at 091- 767336.