It has been a strange League of Ireland season and Galway United will hope to conclude the campaign by registering two victories in the next week to preserve their top-flight status.
Following last Friday’s stunning success over Bohemians, Galway United end series four with an away trip tomorrow night to the banks of the Boyne for a clash with Drogheda United. Then next Tuesday the defining play-off tussle with Bray Wanderers is scheduled for Terryland Park and that is the fixture in which Galway crave a positive performance.
Throughout a year dogged with financial uncertainty, United manager Sean Connor has still been able to stitch competitive teams together until the recent run of losses. That spell was particularly unfortunate as Galway suffered a glut of costly injuries and suspensions. Thankfully those problems appear to be clearing as Galway welcome back Karl Sheppard and Steven Walsh for the Drogheda clash.
Sheppard’s replacement, Jason Molloy, enjoyed a bountiful evening when Galway outfoxed champions Bohemians for the third time in 2010. Since emerging as a promising youngster in the Mervue United shirt, Molloy has always had the cut of a footballer and will now be seeking to produce that type of display on a consistent basis. Molloy’s flash of skill for the glorious winning goal was a moment of sheer class and such tricks will be necessary over the coming days.
Once the Drogheda trip is negotiated Galway’s thoughts will focus on the high-stakes battle with a Bray side rejuvenated under Pat Devlin. Traditionally Bray has developed youngsters and that is the case again this year as Shane O’Neill and Jake Kelly, in particular, have come to prominence.
Devlin has plenty of experience at the Carlisle Grounds and his back-to-basics approach saw Bray overtake Drogheda in the table as they avoided the automatic relegation berth. The Seagulls fully intend to continue their remarkable recovery mission, but they will face a Galway XI that is likely to be at its strongest in two months.
Stephen O’Donnell should return to provide the subtlety in a Galway midfield that may also contain Ciaran Foley, whose graft has been sorely missed in the centre of the park. Two years ago when Galway embarked on an improbable sequence of victories to stay in the premier division Foley was a key contributor, and his willingness to work was so impressive for vast chunks under Connor’s guidance.
Galway have been forced to blood untried teenagers due to the lack of resources at the club, but providing Foley and O’Donnell are fit, Connor will actually have reasonably experienced players on the bench. The manner in which Tom King, Jamie McKenzie, Rhys Meynell, Walsh, Philip Reilly, and Gary Curran have evolved is a testament to the training ground toil of Connor and Gareth Gorman.
The next five days is all about remaining cool under pressure and demonstrating the character that was evident when the Gypsies were burned. Connor has also managed to instill passion into his players and, if Galway can marry that with purpose in the next week, premier division fare will remain Corribside.
• Galway United Supporters’ Trust will hold an emergency general meeting this evening, (Thursday October 28 ) at Monroe’s Tavern, Dominick Street (8pm ). The purpose of the EGM is to formally ratify the objectives of the GUST Co-operative Society, and to nominate special members of the co-op. All United supporters are welcome to attend.
GUST will be running a bus to Friday evening’s premier division match against Drogheda at United Park, departing from the Marriott Hotel, Headford Road at 4pm. To book a seat contact Ronan 087-6972823.