The next crucial encounter in Galway United’s dramatic season occurs at the Carlisle Grounds tomorrow night against Bray Wanderers.
With each passing week evidence continues to support the belief that Sean Connor has constructed a Galway United team packed with character. Having stitched a five-match unbeaten sequence together Connor’s team have summoned a gritty response to the off-field difficulties by providing diligent displays.
St Patrick’s Athletic might have ruled vast chunks of the opening period at Terryland Park last Friday, but an understrength Galway battled back with admirable defiance to force a 1- 1 draw.
Connor was thrilled with the attitude and application Galway exhibited.
"I thought that in the first half we sat back and were a bit intimidated, but the second half performance was totally different because the players showed the required character. Their attitude and application was spot on and the unbeaten run we are on definitely breeds confidence.
"Barry Ryan is really back in form and he is showing he is one of the best goalkeepers in the league. The whole team has been tremendous lately.
"We were missing three players and we are struggling and the only thing that is going to stop us now is our lack of depth. The second-half performance had the desire that I wanted. We said at half-time that we would have to make them work in the game. We gifted Pat's a goal, but the second half performance was tremendous.”
Connor is equally delighted by the consistency his small squad is showing especially as Galway are forced to stuff their bench with teenagers. In the draw with Pat’s, Evan Preston Kelly impressed following his introduction and Connor was encouraged.
"We were missing four players who would have been in the starting XI, and young Evan Preston Kelly came in to make his debut and we had three other kids on the bench. Stevie Walsh is a kid too.
“It has been a very difficult year with deferrals of wages and low gates, but the morale of the players has been tremendous throughout. I think that willingness to work has been crucial. If we can finish ahead of Dundalk, it would be Galway's best finish in 17 years and what a tremendous accolade that would be.”
Bray will be a tough game, but Connor is hoping to have Rhys Meynell, Ciaran Foley, and Jamie McKenzie back.
"I cannot praise the players high enough. They work really hard during the week and we prepare like any other team, but these guys aren't playing for money, they are playing for each other.”
Such unity will be required in Wicklow as Bray have enjoyed a string of positive results recently. Galway have climbed into a healthy position away from the play/off zone and that is precisely where Connor intends to spend the rest of the campaign.
An away win would provide an injection of three precious points and confidence ahead of next week’s FAI Cup quarter-final trip to Tallaght Stadium for a clash with high-flying Shamrock Rovers.
Galway United Supporters Trust will hold an extraordinary general meeting this evening, (Thursday ) in the Marriott Hotel, Headford Road (8pm ). All GUST members and all United supporters are asked to attend.
The meeting is to ask for a mandate from the supporters of Galway United to legally constitute GUST in order to take a shareholding in Galway United. This shareholding has been offered to GUST by the chairman and CEO of the club in return for financial support from GUST.
According to the trust’s chairperson, Ronan Coleman, If the mandate is agreed from those present, which is expected, a process will be set in place to seek legal status for GUST as a co-operative.
The new Maroon Army Members Draw will be launched at the meeting. GUST will be running a bus to tomorrow evening’s premier division match at the Carlisle Grounds, departing from the Marriott Hotel at 4pm. To book a seat contact Ronan 087-6972823. Turlough Rafferty, Newcastle, was the winner of the GUST Aviva Stadium draw held at last Sunday’s barbecue, winning two tickets to the Ireland v Andorra European Championship qualifier. The next draw will be for two tickets to the Ireland v Russia qualifier on Friday October 8.