Any time Shamrock Rovers visit the west is interesting, but tomorrow’s Terryland Park encounter is particularly important for Galway United ( 7.35pm ).
A decent gate will bolster the club’s financial situation, while it is also an opportunity for the players to showcase their talents in front of the live television cameras.
Defeats to Derry City and Bray Wanderers mean Galway will be anxious to arrest their current losing sequence and Sean Connor will surely have his team primed for battle.
Slack defending again cost Galway dearly in the Carlisle Grounds as mistakes continue to be ruthlessly punished. The real pity is, though, Galway’s failure to capitalise on opportunities at the other end as the injury-enforced absence of Joesph Yoffe deprives them of a goal threat.
The lack of depth in the Galway squad is essentially the reason why only five points have been pocketed as the opening series of fixtures comes to an end. Without a string of regulars in Bray, there was a raw look to the Galway starting XI and a Bray outfit filled with confidence following a satisfactory start to the campaign was able to take maximum advantage.
So now Galway face Ireland’s standard bearers in a match that carries real significance for both teams. Considering the vast array of talent assembled at Tallaght Stadium, the Hoops have high ambitions once more in 2011 and they are intent on emulating last season’s success.
Though manager Michael O’Neill craves a new deal, Rovers still top the premier league table after eight games and are blessed with an abundance of options, especially in attack.
Gary Twigg has been injured lately, but every boss in the top flight is envious of the other strikers O’Neill can select. Ciaran Kilduff has previously attracted cross-channel interest for his efforts with UCD, Gary O’Neill is one of the most underrated operators in the country, Dean Kelly has potential, while Galway supporters do not need to be reminded about Karl Sheppard’s pace and promise.
Whatever side Rovers select will be stuffed with experience and quality and Galway must be eager and enthusiastic from first whistle until last. Shaun Maher’s return from suspension should provide assistance in dealing with set pieces which Galway found bothersome in Bray.
There is no denying the continued absences of Alan Murphy, Gary Curran, and Yoffe have robbed Galway significantly and Connor has been forced to improvise ,which is challenging, as all fixtures at this level are difficult.
Goalkeeper Greg Fleming has made a sterling contribution to the Galway cause since March, while captain Paul Sinnott always delivers with the required passion and purpose. Few will argue that Galway are not short four or five players, but they are usually gritty and competitive.
Even when losing to the Candystripes a fortnight ago, Galway were earnest and very much in contention until past the hour mark, but a couple of lapses ensured the closing stages were a procession.
Avoiding and reducing these errors is what Connor and Gareth Gorman will have focused on ahead of tomorrow’s clash in which Galway must compete with the necessary bite and bark.
Rovers are a forceful and physical threat so how Galway deal with the visitors’ honest aggression will be key. Being safe and solid is Galway’s objective, but this will be a demanding evening on the banks of the Corrib.
•Match tickets for Friday evening’s premier division match at Terryland Park are on sale from O'Briens Newsagents, William Street, Galway, and from the Galway United office at Terryland Park. Match tickets will also be on sale from the Eyre Square Centre on Thursday and Friday. Adult tickets cost €12, concessions €10 and secondary school students €5. U-12s are free (accompanied ) and a family ticket for €20 (two adults and two secondary school students ) is also available. Season tickets remain on sale at €99 (adults/concessions ) and €59 (secondary school students ). Fridays after-match pub sponsor is The Goalpost Bar, Woodquay.