United braced for physical test in Drogheda

After enjoying a well-earned rest, League of Ireland footballers return for duty tomorrow night and Galway United face an awkward away assignment against Drogheda United.

A heavy schedule in the opening three months of the campaign examined the resolve of Galway’s players who have provided glimpses of genuine ability. The fixture list, though, had not aided the Galwegians’ cause. Had there been fewer midweek fixtures, Sean Connor’s outfit would be sitting in an even prettier position.

Since arriving at Terryland Park Connor has remained defiant and continues to produce teams that are packed with spirit. This Galway side is not all about determination because there is a sprinkling of craft in the side too.

Competent, young players such as Seamus Conneely, Stephen O’Donnell, and Karl Sheppard have performed with style, and it comes as no surprise they are being monitored by other clubs.

Anto Flood, another who could be classed as one of Galway’s most prominent players in 2010, is likely to depart during the July transfer window for a stint in Cypriot football. Flood’s hold-up play and ability to snaffle goals will be missed, so it will be interesting to see how Galway cope without this effective 25-year-old Dubliner.

Earlier in the campaign Galway easily dismissed Drogheda on the banks of the Corrib, but this will be a far more demanding task. The Boynesiders are usually hard to beat on home turf so Galway need to be competitive in the centre of the park from the outset.

Establishing control in this key area will be one of Galway’s aims and that is why Ciaran Foley’s combative qualities carry significant consequence as the midfielder has been a crucial contributor for Galway.

Highly regarded by Connor, Foley’s form in the month before the break was smashing and with Stephen O’Donnell providing the subtlety, Galway’s central pairing can disturb Drogheda.

Connor has stationed another of his close-season recruits Gary Curran on the right recently and the Galway manager’s faith has been rewarded with a series of tidy displays. Curran’s passing range is decent, and Galway will continue to manufacture opportunities if the former Longford Town man and O’Donnell are in the starting XI.

The long term injuries to Derek O’Brien and Alan Murphy have deprived Galway of two experienced performers who have served the maroon cause impressively over the past decade. In the coming months O’Brien and Murphy’s guile will be of valuable assistance to a young squad which is improving through training ground toil.

Connor is always eager to produce organised displays which frequently makes his teams extremely difficult to beat. In the early days of the season Galway leaked soft and preventable goals, but the clean sheet rate has improved as the weeks have evolved.

Jamie McKenzie and Paul Synott may be one of the youngest central defensive partnerships in the division, but they have shown a resourcefulness that augurs well. Pacy and both able to make last ditch interventions, McKenzie and Synott will be braced for a physical test in Louth tomorrow as Drogheda are likely to adopt a direct approach.

Providing Galway can deal with this threat, Connor’s charges have the ability to add to their points account.

•Galway United Supporters’ Trust will be running a bus to Friday evening’s premier division match, departing from the Marriott Hotel, Headford Road, at 3.30pm. To book a seat contact Ronan 087-6972823. Tickets for the Liverpool friendly (Monday August 9 ) will be on sale on Saturday (June 26 ) upstairs in Elverys Sports, Galway Retail Park, Headford Road (9.30am to 3pm ). Tickets are also on sale directly from GUST, from the Galway United office at Terryland Park, from Ticketmaster outlets, and on-line at www.ticketmaster.ie Tickets for the GUST Aviva Stadium draw will also be on sale on Saturday. The first draw will be held on Friday August 6 - the prize is two tickets to the Ireland v Argentina friendly the following Wednesday. GUST will hold their next meeting upstairs in Fibber Magees on Monday June 28 (7pm ). All United supporters welcome.


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