Over the past couple of months respect has certainly been earned by Galway United, but it is points rather than praise that are needed in the final three weeks of a critical campaign.
Sunday evening’s Brandywell battle with Derry City carries deep implications for Galway, who venture north completely cognisant of the fact that a positive result is required.
From the outset of 2008 it was apparent that this would be a pivotal season for the Eircom League premier division with three clubs being relegated, and despite struggling for vast chunks of the year, a revitalised Galway can still avoid the dreaded drop. A smashing sequence of results ensures United are in charge of their own destiny, but this fixture is especially tricky as Derry are among the top flight’s most competent outfits when in the mood.
While the Candystripes nudged Galway out of the FAI Cup on Sunday, manager Stephen Kenny was impressed by the locals enthusiastic approach. “The lads know they didn’t play well. We didn’t pass the ball well, but we defended well. Galway’s system is unusual in that John Lester sits in front of the back four and mops everything up. Not many teams play the system that Galway do and we couldn’t get our wide players into it, and that is normally where we are quite strong.
“All the back four defended well and I thought Clive Delaney was outstanding for us, he defended really, really well. By and large we weren’t cut open. I wouldn’t want to be unkind on Galway, though, because maybe it could have been a draw too. They had a lot of the play, and in fairness they played well, and they have come on an awful lot."
"Maybe it wasn’t the prettiest game and I am not sure where we went wrong, but their system worked for them, and they have three big lads in midfield in Lester, Jonathan Keane, and Foley and they are physical. Obviously Barry Molloy was preoccupied with Jay O’Shea and (Jesper ) Jorgensen in the hole. If we had got the ball to our wingers Gareth McGlynn and Niall McGinn I felt that their full backs were a bit exposed, but we just couldn’t get the ball to them.
Jeff Kenna remains adamant that his defenders can deal with this scenario. “We have been playing this way for a while and it has worked very well. The full backs we have are good, Seamus has a bit of pace and doesn’t mind a tackle, and Marc McCulloch is the same. I am confident in our full backs’ ability to deal with players one v one even if they have a bit of pace. That is something that the opposition will look to exploit when you play narrow and they will look to go on the outside."
The evidence since Bray Wanderers were dismantled in the Cup at the Carlisle Grounds suggests that Kenna is correct, and the Galway manager remains satisfied with the endeavour being shown during the search for survival. Remaining cool and composed in these pressure -filled times is Galway's current errand. “We couldn’t get the breakthrough and unfortunately for us they just have that bit of extra quality and depth, and that is what made the difference. We had some good play in the second half without creating an exceptional goalscoring chance.
“We have three massive games and it will be another tough game for us up in Derry. Then we have Finn Harps and UCD and depending on how results go next weekend it will determine how important those games are. There is everything to play for and we have to make sure that the loss won’t effect the morale and confidence in the team."
•Galway United Supporters Trust will be running a bus to next Sunday’s premier division match at the Brandywell, departing from Fibber Magees, Eyre Square, at 1pm. Conact Ronan Coleman at 087-6972823, or Conor Holland at 087-2184132.