It promises to be an interesting Friday evening at Terryland Park as champions Bohemians could secure another title if they win against Galway United, and Shamrock Rovers fail to defeat Drogheda United.
The Gypsies have staged a remarkable recovery mission to overtake Rovers at the summit and Pat Fenlon’s team hit the west optimistic that another positive result can be posted. Injuries and suspensions have vexed Galway and they will continue to do so until the play-off with Bray Wanderers when it is hoped talisman Stephen O’Donnell will return.
Galway have been leaking goals at an alarming rate and Sporting Fingal bagged three last weekend as the understength Tribemen were overpowered.
Despite the lack of depth Galway are still a decent side when they can field their first choice XI and that is precisely what manager Sean Connor is plotting to do when Bray arrive Corribside on Tuesday November 2.
Essentially that is the game that will define Galway’s season and after the loss to UCD nearly a fortnight ago Connor must now restore confidence to his squad. That is a significant task considering the rising number of losses as Shamrock Rovers (twice ), Dundalk, UCD, and Fingal have all scored healthy tallies during Galway’s five match losing streak.
Bohemians have ample incentive to follow suit, but Connor will be especially eager to deliver another success over one of his former employers. Amazingly Galway have taken seven points out of their three clashes with the Gypsies in 2010, winning on two occasions at Dalymount Park. In the last Terryland tussle it was a slice of Paddy Madden opportunism that denied the home side in June.
That Galway are unbeaten in their three fixtures with Bohemians offers evidence that Connor’s charges can mix it with the most accomplished footballers in the league. Over the final month of the season Galway must exhibit the dash that saw them gain impressive results earlier.
For much of the campaign Bohemians looked a team in decline as cross-town rivals Rovers appeared to be cruising to the championship. However Bohemians have been efficient and ruthless ensuring Pat Fenlon’s experienced team now hold the upper hand.
Ken Oman, Paul Keegan, Jason Byrne, and ex Galway player Raf Cretaro have all occupied critical roles in the autumnal push for glory, with the latter two nicking goals when it really mattered. Indeed it is staggering to think that while Galway possess one proven frontrunner in Karl Sheppard, Fenlon can rotate Byrne, Cretaro, Madden, Mark Quigley, and even Aaron Greene, who had such a successful stint in the west last year.
Bohemians’ squad is packed with quality and the Gypsies have become accustomed to winning titles again so they do not lack character or conviction. They would be fearful if Galway were at full tilt, especially if one of their former midfielders, O’Donnell, was pulling the midfield strings. But it is next month’s date with Bray that is dominating maroon minds.