Armed with hope and confidence, Galway United will be anxious to maintain the resilience levels that has seen a half-dozen match unbeaten sequence stitched together at such a critical juncture of the campaign.
Tomorrow’s Terryland Park tussle with Bray Wanderers carries deep meaning and Galway know another positive result must be delivered. Rooted at the foot of the table, United are on 20 points, UCD 21, and Cobh 23. With a game in hand, United have five games left.
Pressure has accompanied Galway into every battle since the cruel Cobh Ramblers reversal at the end of August, but the recent signs are extremely encouraging. Even when not at full tilt in the Showgrounds on Saturday, United still found a way to survive and that was enough to ensure manager Jeff Kenna left the north west with a 1 - 1 draw and mildly enthused.
Gary Rogers’ excellence between the sticks, Seamus Conneely’s stability at right full, Alan Keane’s aggression, John Lester’s zeal, and the impact of three determined replacements was laudable. Suddenly choosing a starting XI is problematic.
Iarlaith Daveron, Vinny Faherty, and Derek Glynn’s introductions left Kenna with much to ponder as the three replacements occupied pivotal roles in the recovery mission. Glynn’s pace and Faherty’s honesty were the reasons a penalty was snaffled and Jay O’Shea’s conversion was immaculate. All of Sligo Rovers’ industry was briskly forgotten as Galway’s late rally plundered a point.
Considering O’Shea would have been an absentee it was no harm that the rain poured relentlessly in Dublin on Tuesday. The postponement of the St Patrick’s Athletic fixture may benefit Galway, who have rediscovered whatever confidence had been lost in St Colman’s Park when terrorised by Cobh.
Galway have shown purpose and performed with method and O’Shea’s potency should not be underestimated. O’Shea has offered proof of his adaptability by producing dynamic displays on the flank and in a withdrawn role where his craft at evading tackles ruffles opponents. Another cameo against his former club Bray could steer Galway towards safety and the FAI Cup quarter final replay was all about O’Shea’s skill.
Polished, and full of ideas, O’Shea, ably supported by a combative midfield, has flared to prominence and enjoyed a productive 90 minutes for the Republic of Ireland u- 21 side in Kaunas on Tuesday when Lithuania were dismantled.
Bray Wanderers are unlikely to be as accommodating on the Dyke Road and they have been plucky in their last two jousts. Bray leaked two to a Padraig Amond inspired Shamrock Rovers at Tolka Park last Tuesday week, but they demonstrated pluck and perseverance to eke a division of the spoils. Inevitably Alan Cawley whipped home a sweet free kick to conclude the comeback and the tidy midfielder was an interested spectator in Sligo.
The previous evening Bray possessed the savvy to outfox Derry City so they will be intent on continuing their efficient form. That is why Galway need to afford Bray significant respect, and while there is no disputing the fact that the natives have won three of the last four encounters between the teams, it is the next clash which truly matters. For Galway further points are craved. Providing United can exhibit sufficient fire and fury, an addition to the account can be made.
•Galway United Supporters’ Trust will be holding a general knowledge table quiz in Blakes Tavern, Galway Shopping Centre, on October 23 (9pm ). First prize is four tickets to the FAI Cup semi-final vs Derry City, plus a Sunday lunch for four people before the match. Entry fee is €40 per table of four.