Trailing by two goals following Tuesday's promotion/relegation playoff Galway United will require a minor miracle when hosting Monaghan United in the second leg at Terryland Park tomorrow evening.
With only one competitive win registered in 39 matches in 2011 Galway don't seem equipped to take Monaghan's scalp as Roddy Collins' charges are on the verge of a return to the top flight of Irish football. While Galway had some small pockets of supremacy in Gortakeegan, Monaghan were the more clinical outfit and they will now be protecting a commanding lead at the Dyke Road venue.
Galway, who have leaked soft goals throughout a troubled campaign, were caught out in the 13th minute when Sean Brennan's delivery located Michael Isichei, who provided an opportunistic close range finish.
There were encouraging moments for Galway after the restart with Ronan Caldwell forcing Monaghan custodian Gabriel Sava to make a reflex save, but an incident in the 80th minute had a negative effect for Jumbo Brennan's team. Galway substitute Sean Gavin, making only his second appearance in the maroon shirt, was dismissed along with Monaghan's Eric Foley.
In the closing stages Monaghan added another goal which could have a critical impact as Jordan Keegan's clever assist allowed Sean Brennan nudge Collins' team closer to the Premier League. A significant turnaround is now required and the statistics won't give Galway too much comfort.
Galway have bagged two goals or more inside 90 minutes five times in 39 tussles, but from those matches only one draw has been recorded which demonstrates the considerable problems that have been encountered. The harsh current reality is that Galway's present squad is nowhere near good enough to be operating at this level and that has been confirmed on a weekly basis.
Forced to introduce youngsters and ask others to make the massive leap from the junior game has meant that Galway have endured so many painful defeats. Undoubtedly unexpected results can occur in a play-off situation, but Collins had Monaghan primed and ready for a gritty Tribe challenge and the border outfit landed the blows that truly mattered too. Obviously an early Galway reply at Terryland could put Monaghan under duress, but the alarming manner in which goals have been frittered away doesn't bode well for those seeking an improbable comeback.
This has been a sobering journey for the Corribsiders, who have suffered so much agony on and off the park, but a rebuilding phase is imminent. Brennan already has declared his intentions to reshape his squad, while the management committee, charged with the difficult task of rejuvenating Galway United, are hopeful that a licence can be secured for 2012.
Essentially the winter is all about ensuring that Galway survive in the League of Ireland and regardless of the Monaghan outcome that task is being embraced which does offer a degree of hope. A dramatic Galwegian revival with a three goal victory is unlikely, but Brennan will be seeking strong performances from Paul Sinnott, Laurence Gaughan, Gary Kelly, Alan Murphy, and Mikey Gilmore, who are among the few to remain on the books at the club next term.
Adult match tickets for Friday’s Premier Division play-off vs Monaghan United at Terryland Park (KO 7.45pm ) are on sale in advance at just €10. Tickets are on sale from the club office at Terryland Park, from O'Brien’s Newsagents, William Street, Galway, and from Elverys Sports, Retail Park, Headford Road, Galway. Concession tickets also cost €10, with secondary school students €5. Under 12s are free if accompanied, and a family rate of €20 is also available. Season tickets do not apply for play-off matches. For further information, visit www.galwayunitedfc.ie, contact the club office at (091 ) 767336, or Ronan Coleman at (087 ) 6972823.