Salthill must seize chance to get points on the board

The only two pointless teams in the Airtricity League first division collide on Saturday evening at Drom when Salthill Devon host Wexford Youths.

Though Salthill were much improved against Mervue United, they still suffered another defeat, having lost out to a rampant Longford Town on the opening night of the season.

The capture of Derek O'Brien adds experience and guile to a predominantly youthful Salthill set-up and the Tralee native was prominent at Fahy's Field. Still, for all of O'Brien's enterprise, Salthill were outfoxed by unbeaten Mervue, who have made a satisfying start to the campaign.

That cannot be said about Salthill or Wexford, even if Tony Mannion's side will be quietly confident about putting points into their account at the weekend. Wexford were thumped by Cobh Ramblers and then soundly overturned by Athlone Town so they will hit the west intent on summoning a solid display.

O'Brien should have a significant influence for Salthill in the coming weeks and months, while Ronan Forde, Mixie Harty, and Enda Curran have roles to occupy. Willie Enubele, Eugene Greaney, and Jakub Tomanica are others who will be striving to guide Salthill to their first competitive success of the year.

The 2-1 Galway derby success offered further evidence that Mervue will be competitive this season. Saturday's trip to the RSC for a game with Waterford United will certainly examine Mervue, who appear to have made encouraging strides so far in March.

Last season Mervue failed to build on a reasonable 2011 adventure, but even though a string of key players have left again. Johnny Glynn's squad is adapting impressively.

Central to the feel-good factor at Mervue is the emergence of teenager Ryan Manning. A prolific scorer in the underage ranks, Manning was clever enough to score in the win against Salthill. Manning then followed his first senior strike with four goals for Mervue's youth side on Sunday in an emphatic Connacht Cup success over Conn Rangers.

Conor Gleeson has been safe between the sticks for Mervue, with Michael McSweeney and Martin Conneely anchoring the defence. Mark Ludden's left peg manufactured several opportunities when Devon were in Fahy's Field, while further up the park Noel Varley, Gary Curran, and Jason Molloy influenced the play.

Mervue know that the match with Waterford will be tricky, but it is a challenge they embrace with hope and a degree of expectation. --

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