United primed for classic cup tie with Rovers

Karl Sheppard could emerge as a key character as Galway seek to advance to the FAI Cup semi-finals tomorrow evening in Tallagh.

Karl Sheppard could emerge as a key character as Galway seek to advance to the FAI Cup semi-finals tomorrow evening in Tallagh.

Defiance is always needed in domestic football and Galway United will head to Tallaght for tomorrow night’s FAI Cup quarter-final intent on replicating the courage and commitment shown at Terryland Park on Monday.

Galway trailed a smashing Sligo Rovers outfit by two goals, but Sean Connor’s team summoned a remarkable rally which culminated in a sweet Karl Sheppard equaliser.

Tomorrow night’s opponents Shamrock Rovers are the standard bearers in Ireland at the moment, but they encountered a determined Dundalk in their last league fixture and bizarrely leaked five goals. Michael O’Neill’s charges still top the table, but the manner of their defensive capitulation at Oriel Park means Galway will hit the capital heartened.

Sheppard’s crafty goal provides a timely injection of confidence, and the sheer willingness of Steven Walsh to work for the Galwegian cause carries deep importance in the intimidating Dublin arenas. Whether at left full, left midfield, or up front Walsh has been a key contributor for Galway over the past two months, demonstrating what can be achieved by being patient and passionate.

The other young locals are delivering for Connor too. Seamus Conneely is an accomplished footballer enjoying the licence to roam; Paul Sinnott is the most under rated player in the team; while in the centre of the park Stephen O’Donnell remains an influential figure. Some of the challenges he made when Galway were struggling at the outset against Sligo kept the Tribesmen afloat.

Recently there have been glimpses of Jason Molloy’s skill. So promising as a teenager in the Mervue United shirt, Molloy has plenty of potential and in the last month there have been flashes of his ability.

With Mervue and Salthill Devon in the league it is encouraging to see Evan Preston Kelly, Gary Kelly, Ger Cheevers, Shane Keogh, and Emmet Shaw all sample action at the highest level.

When Connor was unveiled as Galway manager he spoke of a desire to introduce these type of players and that has occurred. Gareth Gorman and Paul ‘Ski’ McGee have assisted this process and Galway need to maintain this policy in the coming years.

Still it is the present that matters most to Connor and Galway will be primed for a classic cup performance tomorrow. Being safe and solid at the back is important, so Barry Ryan must be offered protection by a defence that recovered well after a shaky start on Monday evening.

Sinnott and McKenzie will need to be alert to thwart the clinical Gary Twigg and the pacy Thomas Stewart. Full backs Conneely and Rhys Meynell are guaranteed an exacting examination on the flanks, regardless of who O’Neill opts for out wide.

Ciaran Foley’s diligence has been missed in the past half a dozen matches and his partnership with O’Donnell was blossoming before an unfortunate ankle injury. With O’Donnell also hobbling out of the Sligo draw, Galway could be short on options in the middle so Connor may be forced to tinker with his team.

Elsewhere Galway will need Derek O’Brien and Sheppard to cause problems for a Rovers’ rearguard that has been caught out by fast frontrunners before. Over the past couple of campaigns Derek Glynn and Aaron Greene have enjoyed productive nights when faced by an imposing Hoops’ defence so Sheppard could emerge as a key character as Galway seek to cause an upset in the pale.

• Galway United Supporters’ Trust will be running a bus to Friday evening’s FAI Cup match at Tallaght Stadium, departing from the Marriott Hotel, Headford Road, at 4.30pm. To book a seat contact Ronan Coleman 087-6972823. Forms for the new GUST "Maroon Army" membership scheme will be available on the bus. Forms are also available from Tommy Shields at (087 ) 2930738, or Sean Dunleavy at (087 ) 9123184. GUST will be holding its next meeting on Tuesday September 21, at Monroes Tavern, Dominick Street (7pm ).

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