Despite suffering defeat in another high-scoring contest with Finn Harps, Johnny Glynn's Mervue United will be hoping to examine Limerick FC's first division title credentials at Fahy's Field tomorrow evening.
Limerick currently trail table-toppers Longford Town by two points and they hit the west especially eager to summon a quick response following their defeat to Waterford United. There is no doubt that Limerick possess the strongest squad in the division, but Longford continue to surprise so Pat Scully's side know that a decent result is required.
Barry Ryan, Shane Guthrie, Corie Treacy, Stephen Bradley, Joe Gamble, Dominic Foley, Derek O'Brien, and Denis Behan offer significant League of Ireland experience, while Shaun Kelly, Shane Tracy, Gary Sheahan, and Tuam native Rory Gaffney are capable footballers too. Gaffney is attracting cross-channel interest and will be keen to deliver a polished performance against his former club Mervue, who have endured a disappointing start to the campaign.
Last season Mervue made progress, but the departure of several key players and the fact that this is an especially competitive year in the second tier of the domestic game has made life difficult. Three weeks ago Mervue were five points ahead of SD Galway, but that gap has been trimmed to one which is a significant worry. Twelve defeats in 16 matches is a grim statistic that troubles Mervue, who have only won twice in 2012.
Alan Murphy's brace in Ballybofey was not enough to even earn a draw as Finn Harps shaded an interesting encounter that ultimately saw the Donegal club edge further away from the two Galway teams. Gritty displays from Martin Conneely, Mike Elwood, Marc Ludden, Jason Molloy, Gary Kelly, Murphy, Shane Keogh, and Steven Walsh will be required if Mervue are to vex a Limerick side with lofty ambitions.
SD Galway will also be keen to be solid defensively when making the trip to the RSC for a tussle with a revitalised Waterford United. The Suirsiders have been awkward opponents for Limerick this term and they recovered after falling behind to a Denis Behan strike as Peter White and Dylan Mernagh headed second-half goals.
That Waterford victory nudged them into serious promotion contention and Waterford will be anxious to eke out a home success when SD Galway go to the south east. Packie Holden, David Breen, Gary Dempsey, White, and the highly promising teenager Sean Maguire are key contributors for the Blues, who are gaining in confidence. The recent derby triumph over Mervue United and a draw with Wexford Youths last Saturday at Drom ensured that SD Galway added to their account.
Now only one point away from Mervue, Tony Mannion's squad are hopeful of climbing from the bottom in the coming weeks. For that to happen Eugene Greaney, Cian Fadden, Mixie Harty, Timmy Molloy, Enda Curran, and Damien O'Reilly must continue to replicate the honesty that was demonstrated in the stalemate with Wexford.