It has been a demanding start to the season for Galway United, and tomorrow's trip to Dalymount Park for a clash with champions Bohemians will provide another strenuous evening.
A smashing second-half performance against Sporting Fingal ought to have ended with a Galway victory, a fact that the visitors' manager Liam Buckley acknowledged.
With Drogheda United stunning St Patrick's Athletic at Richmond Park, Galway now head to the Phibsboro venue especially eager to move away from the bottom two. The 2010 Airtricity League will be loaded with tight matches so it is crucial points are registered early and often in the year.
In the early weeks Galway were not clinical enough in front of goal, and though Karl Sheppard and Anto Flood bagged against Fingal, the team's failure to convert other chances proved costly. Stephen O'Donnell should have been awarded a penalty in the dying stages, but Galway departed from Terryland Park without taking the win that was so achievable.
How they respond to this in the capital will be monitored with interest as 90 minutes spent in the company of the standard bearers will certainly be revealing.
Galway’s playing resources were stretched on Tuesday in the EA Sports at the Brandywell, and fielding without a recognised goalkeeper, Derry City advanced 3-2. Flood rattling the net again was one of the crumbs of comfort from a Galway outfit that is leaking preventable goals.
Although two lapses in defensive concentration were ruthlessly punished by Fingal, there was plenty of promise in the way Sean Connor’s team competed. Thomas Heary’s injury-enforced absence in the past fortnight has forced Connor to pair Jamie McKenzie and Paul Synott at the centre of a defence that was not short on pace. Connor has emphasised the lack of experience in the current back four, and Fingal were able to exploit it with one last-gasp attack as they stole a scarcely merited point.
Still, an attacking trio of Conan Byrne, Gary O’Neill, and Eamon Zayed with Glen Crowe arriving off the substitutes’ bench will test any rearguard, and Galway will encounter similar quality at Dalymount in front of the live television cameras.
Pat Fenlon has again constructed a squad stuffed with talent and has rotated his strikers thus far so United could face any from Raf Cretaro, Jason Byrne, Paddy Madden, Mark Quigley, and Aaron Greene, who enjoyed several productive outings in the maroon shirt last year. Considering the vastly different budgets, Bohemians will be intent on recovering from the derby defeat to Shamrock Rovers. That means there will be a heavy burden of expectation on the Dubliners, and if Galway can maintain the energy and enthusiasm levels that have been demonstrated on a consistent basis, Flood and Sheppard could disturb the expensively assembled Gypsies.