Following the brief Airtricity League mid-season break, action resumes tomorrow evening with a first division clash involving Salthill Devon and Longford Town at Drom.
Bottom-of-the-table Salthill host the current first division standard-bearers Longford in a match that carries plenty of importance for both outfits.
Before the sabbatical Salthill had produced encouraging performances and were finally being rewarded with improved results. Salthill now only trail Cobh Ramblers by two points in the standings and, with Enda Curran in splendid goalscoring form, they will be keen to examine Tony Cousins' charges.
Two wins in their last three matches provides proof of Salthill's development during the past month with Curran the chief attacking threat. Unfortunately for Salthill, Curran will miss the Longford tussle through suspension which deprives the locals of their crafty talisman.
Plucky cup exits to St Patrick's Athletic and Shamrock Rovers supplied more evidence that Salthill can play when in the mood so they will be anxious to be defiant when Longford visit the west.
Ronan Forde, Robbie Gaul, Derek O'Brien, and Mixie Harty remain key contributors for Salthill, who possess a decent prospect in Alex Byrne. Longford have a six-point lead at the summit, but their rivals, Athlone Town, host Johnny Glynn's Mervue United at Lissywoolen.
That is another game with significant implications as Athlone and Mervue will both feel they can have a real say in the promotion hunt.
Mervue commenced the campaign brightly, but they have lost five of their last six matches in all competitions which is a worry. Three losses in four league matches means Mervue, who have dropped to fifth, are now nine points behind Longford.
Roddy Collins' Athlone have responded impressively to their FAI Cup defeat to a Trevor Molloy-inspired Bluebell United. Another victory could edge them closer to Longford, who face an awkward clash at Drom against a Salthill side that is beginning to acquire confidence and belief.
Mervue travel to Athlone without the versatile Stephen Walsh, who is banned, so Glynn will be forced into a defensive reshuffle. Since the start of the year Glynn's plans have been disturbed for a plethora of reasons, but Mervue have the potential to cause teams problems.
Athlone's squad has a similar age profile to Mervue so the visitors will be aware of the task that awaits them at the well-appointed Athlone venue. The June 14 reversal to Wexford Youths has impacted on Mervue, who know some sort of dividend needs to be registered.
In that Wexford setback Mervue missed a gilt-edged chance to draw level in the second half when Gary Curran failed to convert a penalty. Still, the youthful footballers in the Mervue squad like Conor Gleeson and Ryan Manning, in particular, are benefitting from sampling life at this level alongside Martin Conneely, Marc Ludden, Tom King, Curran, and Molloy.