As Galway United’s steady improvement continues, a Saturday evening of high consequence awaits at the Showgrounds.
Though Sligo Rovers are clearly a tidy and thoughtful outfit prompted intelligently by Paul Cook, it is Galway who require the spoils. With Finn Harps, UCD, and Cobh Ramblers all eager to avoid the drop, Galway head up the N17 completely aware of how significant the combat is.
That was a factor at Terryland Park last Friday as Galway garnered an encouraging success over Cork City. While the rebels seriously examined Galway in a frenetic finale, the locals survived and that was heartening.
Ever the perfectionist, Jeff Kenna identified small weaknesses and is keen for United to improve further in the Connacht derby. Jonathan Keane’s second-half dismissal had a bearing on the game as Cork came back swinging, but Galway had inflicted sufficient damage.
Kenna was content, but struck a couple of notes of caution, suggesting his players need to show more ruthlessness. “Again we conceded sloppy goals and could have scored a couple more, so it could have been a resounding win, and really, if we had have stayed with 11 on the pitch, I think that would have been the case.
“You could argue he [Keane]was hard done by. I suppose that’s a lesson for him to learn. He’s a young lad, he’s come into the team, he’s had a run of five games, he’s been very impressive. The next time I’d like to think when he goes onto a yellow card, he’ll be a little bit more careful when he decides to make a tackle.
“Hopefully we can get a positive result at Sligo and then we’ve got Bray Wanderers and then the semi-final, and the more people who come and get behind us, the better it will be.”
Sligo’s strength lies in the centre of the park where Conor O’Grady’s competitiveness ensures the Bit O’Red are always gritty opponents. Galway, though, have been passionate recently, particularly in the past five matches in which John Lester and Ciaran Foley have formed a solid partnership with John Russell dropping in from the flank to lend assistance.
Kenna is encouraged by the impact Foley, who bagged in the Cork success, has made. “Since he’s come back into the team he has absolutely worked his socks off, he wants to die for the cause. And when you’ve got players like that in the team, it’s amazing what you can achieve.
“We’ll have an enforced change, but that’s part and parcel of the game. I’m sure whoever comes in will be as eager to stay in the team and perform well and keep everyone going.”
Keane’s red card rules him out of contention with Alan Murphy expected to reclaim a berth in the starting XI. Galway appear to have the system to cause problems for Sligo as every foe has been vexed by Jay O’Shea’s ability. With Russell complementing Lester and Foley, Galway’s high octane philosophy is earning points and plaudits.
Another ardent 90 minute shift must be produced in the northwest. With faith and belief growing, Galway will be keen to make an addition to the points account.
•Galway United Supporters Trust is running a bus to Saturday’s match at the Showgrounds, departing from Fibber Magees, Eyre Square, at 4.30pm. To book a seat contact Ronan 087-6972823.
O'Shea receives second call-up
Galway United's Jay O'Shea has received his second international call up in the space of a week with his inclusion in Pat Fenlon's 20 man Irish U-23 squad for the vital International Challenge Trophy fixture against Belgium on Tuesday, October 21 in Dalymount Park.
O'Shea's inclusion caps a fine week for the attacking midfielder, having scored twice in his side's 3-2 victory over Cork City, as well as earning his first call-up to the Ireland u-21 squad.