Galway United host UCD in Terryland Park tomorrow evening as the club seeks to end its bleakest losing run.
Having recorded 15 successive losses, Sean Connor's side has another difficult assignment. Local followers will trust the tie will provide some evidence that United will not permit the worrying gap at the bottom to widen further.
The spiral of defeats has inevitably started to bring a fatalistic aspect to both team and supporters. Terryland Park has improved beyond recognition since Galway first entered the league in 1977. Yet older supporters will harken back to an era where the ground's uninviting surrounds helped foster a local sense of resilience in home teams and incited unease and discomfort in visiting sides. While seeking comfort from history and tradition is a dubious exercise, that sense of Terryland being a bastion of Galway spirit must urgently be recreated.
United’s plight at present has a great deal to do with the club's inability to establish itself in a sufficiently robust fashion from which it could develop on a progressive basis. It is to the credit of the management committee that some hundreds of supporters still attach themselves loyally to the team. That support is stoical and unfailingly good humoured, and such characteristics are being tested as this season progresses.
Sean Connor's job as manager is surely the most unenviable in the domestic game. No manager in the club's history has had to deal with such a series of misfortune and still return to work charged with the task of lifting morale and convincing his troops they can effect a positive change in the club's fortunes.
Given the number of younger players on the books, their development takes place with a backdrop that could not have been envisaged at the start of the season.
UCD travel west on foot of a plucky league draw with Derry City last week. That stated, the students had just come off a dismal seven game series of league defeats. Goals from Dean Marshall and Graham Rusk gave Martin Russell's charges a well-earned point.
On Monday the teams met again in the EA Sports Cup and three second-half Candystripe goals saw the customary order and form restored with a 3-0 Derry victory.
There is regard among football people for the work of Martin Russell at UCD, and calibre players such as Ger Barron, Paul Corry, Robbie Benson and Damien Morrison have the look of footballers set to make an invaluable contribution to the Belfield soccer annals.
It can be argued that the arrival of the students offers the best chance in recent weeks of ending Galway’s dreadful run which continued last weekend with Dundalk’s 6 - 1 riot over United at Oriel Park
A turn in footballing fortune is urgently required. The need is great now to summon up a performance of defiance, spirit and aggression. This is a club which gave the domestic game such luminaries as Eamonn Deacy, Tommy Murphy, John Mannion, Billy Clery, Jimmy Nolan, Mark Herrick and Keith Lambert. Their pride and affinity with the club, the jersey and supporters left an indelible imprint on the Galway soccer public, and it is important such a legacy not be lost to this generation.
The presence of supporters and some passionate vocal support would be of immense value to a team that needs to know it is indeed being backed instead of just being watched.
No public like the Galway soccer public is as well used to the swings and arrows of outrageous footballing fortune. The team, its management, and activists know that the time has come for the players to draw a footballing line in the sand and state enough is indeed enough.
Tomorrow's game will be closely examined for signs of a strong footballing statement.
Galway United will host an Historical Walking Tour of Galway city on Saturday ( July 2 ), departing The Spanish Arch at 2.30pm. For further details contact Ronan Coleman 087- 6972823.
•The club will also hold two fundraising events in August, a poker night in the Eglinton Casino, Eglinton Street, on Sunday August 13, and a concert featuring Knights of Leon at the Black Box, Dyke Road, on Sunday August 20.