Returning to the scene of a crime frequently brings trouble so Galway United will be especially anxious to take some sort of dividend from tomorrow’s trip to Tallaght for another clash with table-toppers Shamrock Rovers.
Last Friday’s FAI Cup quarter final ended in farce as referee Anthony Buttimer took centre stage once again when dismissing Galway goalkeeper Barry Ryan. Under duress due to the numerical inferiority, Galway were then ruthlessly dismissed by the Hoops, who cruised to an emphatic 6 - 0 success.
Considering Buttimer’s record with Galway this year, which has featured alleged comments made to former striker Anto Flood and a couple of odd displays, it seemed more than a touch unfortunate the Cork official was placed in charge of such a crucial contest. When Ryan was banished so early that annoyance grew and Rovers were willing and able to land the blows between the white lines.
Now Galway head for the capital without the suspended Ryan, meaning local youngster Dara Geraghty will occupy the goalkeeper’s sweater. Geraghty has been a promising performer in junior football for several seasons and will need to be similarly safe and solid against a Rovers’ team that has clearly banished a disastrous defeat to Dundalk from their system.
The depth of Michael O’Neill’s squad ensures they can cope when players are injured or banned so a title challenge has been launched. At the tail end of 2009 Rovers came within a whisker of being crowned champions and they are anxious to be standard-bearers in Ireland again.
Bohemians were held at the Showgrounds on Tuesday and the Hoops know a victory over Galway would edge them closer to the finishing line. Though the cup fixture was negotiated without too much hassle, Rovers have encountered bother with Galway in the three previous league meetings.
Karl Sheppard’s pace has irked the Dubliners and, providing Galway keep the full complement on the pitch, an upset is not beyond the realms of possibility. Galway have beaten Bohemians twice at Dalymount Park so they are capable of performances.
With Bray Wanderers resurgent, and Dundalk and UCD also able to glean points, the remainder of the campaign will be sprinkled with critical encounters. After Rovers, Galway face another match on the road in Oriel Park and then UCD visit Terryland Park so the next fortnight will be extremely revealing.
Connor will demand Galway add to their account over the course of these three games so the importance of being earnest should not be underestimated. Ciaran Foley’s absence with an ankle problem has deprived Galway of a forceful, physical presence in the centre of the park and when the stakes are piled high that is precisely the type of committed player that is needed.
Galway staged a dramatic escape two years ago with a raft of the current squad so they have experience in high-pressure situations. Connor has guided Galway well through choppy waters and the Tribesmen will be striving to stay afloat.
• Galway United Supporters’ Trust is running a bus to Friday evening’s premier division match at Tallaght Stadium, departing the Marriott Hotel, Headford Road, at 4pm. Contact Ronan Coleman 087-6972823 to book a seat.
GUST will host a Fans’ Forum with United manager Sean Connor next Thursday, September 30, at Monroes Tavern, Dominick Street (8pm ). All Galway United supporters welcome.
GUST LFC play their next match in the Galway and District League against Salthill Devon at Drom on Sunday at 2pm.