The final League of Ireland games before the mid season break take place this weekend with SD Galway and Mervue United both eager to record positive results.
SD Galway entertain Finn Harps at Eamon Deacy Park, while Mervue United make the long trek to the RSC for a clash with Waterford United.
Mervue's deserved FAI Cup success over SD Galway was achieved by virtue of a sound second half display. SD Galway might have shaded the opening period, but once Pat Hoban headed Mervue ahead they were in control. Substitute Etanda Nkololo decorated the victory with a fine late strike crafted by a delightful flash of skill from Alan Murphy. Ultimately Mervue were more clinical converting chances and they will hope to maintain their improved form following three wins in five matches.
For SD Galway the need for a victory has never been greater. Now in their third season in the First Division they are used to trading in the bottom two places, but with only three points registered from a dozen fixtures an injection of hope and optimism is needed. SD Galway have also been nudged out of the EA Sports and FAI Cups so the statistics are grim with 11 losses in 14 competitive encounters.
There were a couple of positives for SD Galway at the Dyke Road venue even though Mervue eventually triumphed. Cian Fadden was solid at the back, Willie Enubele battled diligently in the centre of the park, while Tom Bradshaw carried a threat on the left and was unfortunate not to put SD Galway ahead on a few occasions.
But when Mervue seized the initiative SD Galway never looked like responding mainly because the amount of defeats being suffered is bound to have an impact on the confidence levels. Colm Horgan, Eugene Greaney, Ronan Conlon, Luke McConnell, and Bradshaw all contributed against Mervue and will need to be similarly hard working when Harps are in town.
The Donegal outfit make an adequate start to the season, but since beating table toppers Longford Town on April 14 Harps have suffered six defeats on the spin in all competitions. Harps are only four points clear of Mervue, but they have decent footballers in Ciaran Coll, Thomas McBride, Shaun McGowan, and Ciaran Greene.
Having made strides with some encouraging triumphs over the past month, Mervue will be keen to examine Waterford at the RSC. Ronan Forde, Michael McSweeney, Mike Elwood, James Casserly, and Mark Ludden dealt with what SD Galway could muster during the Cup derby.
Further up the pitch Noel Varley, Murphy, and Hoban helped guide Mervue into the last 16, but they know that the League is hugely significant. Building on a satisfactory 2011 campaign is the challenge and earning something from the trip to the south east would be viewed as encouraging. Waterford have won six of their 12 First Division tussles so it will be far from easy, but Johnny Glynn's charges have the potential to cause a mild surprise.