John Brennan takes charge of Galway United at Terryland Park for the first time tomorrow night with Bohemians providing the opposition.
Brennan's opening fixture at the Belfield Bowl ended in an unfortunate defeat when a five-minute lapse in Galwegian concentration was ruthlessly punished last Monday week. UCD struck twice during that spell despite an Oscar Sibanda goal having given the visitors the lead.
There was enough in that display to suggest the current Galway squad can be competitive at this level for the rest of the season. Following the loss, Brennan promised to put his own stamp on the team, too, and the Galway boss hopes that evidence will be offered against Bohemians.
The Gypsies secured a place in the semi-finals of the FAI Cup on Tuesday night when an extra time Anto Flood goal ensured they outfoxed Dundalk. That gruelling encounter will have taken plenty from the Dubliners, so Galway will be eager to profit if Bohemians’ minds and legs are tired.
When colliding with UCD there was significant courage and commitment in Galway's football with Gary Kelly once again supplying the industry. Brennan is intent on developing local talent and Kelly is improving rapidly and is now comfortable operating in the top-flight of the domestic game.
With Kelly young and fit enough to scamper around the park seeking involvement, Eric Browne's experience dovetails nicely with the youngster. Honest and aggressive, Browne's last two matches anchoring the Galway midfield has meant the defence has received far more protection.
Yob Son and Laurence Gaughan certainly do not lack in the bravery stakes even if naive decisions have been made at crucial times. Still the manner in which Son and Gaughan have battled means that Galway does possess a central duo that will be rugged and not easily outfought.
At the opposite end of the pitch Alan Murphy has being ploughing a lone furrow, but the skipper remains Galway's most accomplished player. When Galway divided the spoils with Dundalk Murphy coolly converted a pressure penalty, but that was only one example of the drive and desire the Ballinrobe native demonstrated. Murphy's leadership qualities were needed in that moment to end a miserable 24-match losing streak and the relief was palpable on the Dyke Road. The following Monday in the capital Murphy fizzed a couple of outrageous efforts just over the bar, clearing showing confidence is returning to a Galway team that has suffered throughout a cruel campaign.
Out wide in Belfield Sibanda and Mikey Gilmore, in particular, were full of running with neither deserving to finish on a beaten side - such was their enthusiasm. That is exactly the kind of attitude Brennan will be demanding until November.
There is much to play for in the closing weeks. A play-off is inevitable now and Brennan will be seeking to have Galway ready and willing for that challenge. Pinching positive results in the mundane league tussles between now and then will be one of Brennan's objectives.