Foley’s return will add bite to United’s midfield

Throughout the years Galway United have suffered at Oriel Park, but Galway United will head for the County Louth town tomorrow night intent on avoiding another defeat.

Sean Connor’s return to the border town ensures there is an interesting sub-plot, and Galway are blessed with sufficient talent to eke out a positive result.

Two lapses in concentration at set-pieces proved costly against Shamrock Rovers, but Galway fared well for most of the game frustrating the Hoops. However Rovers’ physical supremacy ensured they survived with a 2 - 0 victory.

That Galway were competitive despite missing a string of key players offered encouragement, and, for a brief spell after Stephen Rice’s opener, the visitors might have nicked an equaliser as substitute Ciaran Foley’s injected bite.

Despite the rally Rovers forced a corner, Hoops skipper Dan Murray was permitted a free header, and Galway were beaten.

Assistant manager Gareth Gorman admitted Galway’s hectic recent schedule that has been sprinkled with midweek fixtures has been challenging.

“We had no joy, and I think that we were beaten by the better team. It was a case of too many matches for us - our 10th match in 35 days. When you have a small squad like ours it takes its toll.

"It was very, very soft to concede from set-pieces. To be fair to them there was good movement and good delivery, but from our point of view we work on trying to defend set pieces. We said it at half-time that the only way we felt they were going to score was from set pieces, and that is what happened.”

Now a clash with a Dundalk outfit that has enjoyed a productive start to the year will examine a Galway team that must play without the suspended Stephen O’Donnell. Foley’s return from a lay-off means Galway will have a forceful presence in the centre of the park which is always needed on the artificial pitch at Oriel.

Retaining possession is vital on such an awkward surface so being determined and disciplined at the outset will be one of Galway’s main objectives. Seamus Conneely missed the Rovers reversal, but Gorman is hopeful that the defender could return.

"If the lads came on and got injured, they could have been ruled out for about four weeks, whereas they should now be ready for next Friday.”

Though Dundalk have been outfoxed by Bray Wanderers and St Patrick’s Athletic in the past month they advanced in the EA Sports Cup on Monday night when nudging Sporting Fingal from the competition. That win suggests that the loss to Pat’s has been cleansed from the system, but Galway will still feel that they can bother Dundalk.

Jamie McKenzie and Paul Synott’s pace will be beneficial in Oriel, while Bobby Ryan’s subtlety was evident in Tallaght. Capable of threading through clever deliveries, Ryan can craft opportunities for Galway’s most promising attacking partnership in several seasons as Anto Flood and Karl Sheppard have demonstrated their finishing ability and they can convert chances.

Connor and Gorman, diligent on the training ground, are pragmatists, who will have stressed the importance of being strong for 90 minutes and, if Galway defend with the necessary conviction, an away triumph is possible.

•Galway United Supporters’ Trust is running a bus to Friday evening’s premier division match against Dundalk FC at Oriel Park, departing from the Marriott Hotel, Headford Road, at 4pm. To book a seat contact Ronan 087-6972823. Paul Naughton of Ballinasloe was the winner of the Galway United Champions League draw. Kieran Doherty, Williamstown, won the second prize (two nights for two people at the Marriott Johnstown Hotel ), and Michelle Raftery, Glenamaddy won the third prize of two tickets to any Manchester United home match in the 2010-2011 season.

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