The early weeks of the Airtricity League first division season have confirmed the suspicion that Mervue United have made progress and Johnny Glynn’s side will be eager to build on their satisfying start at Ferrycarrig Park against Wexford Youths tomorrow.
Despite an unfortunate loss to Shelbourne in a game which attracted more than 600 spectators at Fahy’s Field, Mervue recovered to beat Finn Harps in the EA Sports Cup on Monday. That result was a sure sign that Mervue have improved since the tail end of last season, while the gritty manner of their display in the Shels defeat offered more encouraging evidence.
Glynn’s management appears to get the best out of the young players at his disposal and Mervue will venture to the south east with every chance of taking a morale-boosting away win. Wexford have suffered three defeats in their league matches, so Mervue will trust that Nicky Curran, Jason Molloy, and Rory Gaffney can maintain the form that ensures a feel-good factor exists around the east side of the city at present.
While Salthill Devon have only taken a point from their first four fixtures in the league, there was plenty of reason for optimism as they came within a whisker of stunning a fancied Derry City outfit before losing 4 - 2 in the EA Sports Cup at Drom on Monday.
When drawing with Galway United in the FAI Cup last August, Salthill demonstrated that they can compete with top-flight clubs, and they twice took the lead against the Candystripes before succumbing in extra-time.
Salthill miss the subtlety of Daryl Horgan, now with Sligo Rovers, but the emergence of Cian Fadden and Entanda Nkololo, combined with the consistency of Gearoid O’Leidhinn, James Whelan, and Ciprian Straut, means Emlyn Long and Mike Quirke’s team has the ability to upset more expensively assembled sides.
One of those in the first division, Waterford United, are Salthill’s opponents on Saturday evening and the locals will need to be at their passing best if they intend to disturb a club that is plotting a promotion assault. There is no denying the importance of making a solid start and, if Salthill’s youngsters can achieve that, they can avoid another reversal.