Salthill’s improving form will test a slipping Mervue

In derby games anything is possible with the form book shredded so Mervue United's Fahy's Field Airtricity League first division contest with Salthill Devon promises to be interesting.

A poor run of form has seen Mervue drop to fifth in the standings and, though Salthill remain rooted to the bottom of the table, there have been encouraging signs and performances in recent weeks. It means that the upcoming Corribside clash could go either way as confidence has drained from Mervue's system.

Having started the campaign so effectively and efficiently, Mervue have now lost six of their last seven matches in all competitions. An EA Sports Cup loss to Sligo Rovers and an FAI Cup reversal to Bray Wanderers are included in that worrying spell for Mervue, who were soundly beaten by a Philly Gorman-inspired Athlone Town last Friday.

Gorman's opportunism was rewarded with a hat-trick as Mervue were not able to cope with Roddy Collins' improving promotion contenders.

For a while in the spring it seemed that Mervue might launch an unexpected bid for first division honours, but injuries and suspensions have disturbed them significantly.

Results were being carved out in March, April, and May but, during the past month and a half, expectations have been altered. Strangely that is precisely when Salthill have started to nick a couple of wins and draws as Jumbo Brennan's charges are four points behind Cobh Ramblers.

Despite falling a goal behind to Longford Town, who had skipper Corie Treacy red carded, Salthill remained calm at Drom on Friday. Derek O'Brien, Salthill's chief attacking threat on the left, earned a penalty which he subsequently converted to restore parity. The draw was merited because Salthill had put in a performance that was not just about pluck. There had been a bit of polish to Devon's football too.

Robbie Gaul continues to develop at right back, while the emergence of Republic of Ireland schools international Alex Byrne is noteworthy. Byrne played at centre half against Longford and impressed with his willingness to tackle aggressively and also put Salthill on the front foot by delivering possession in a safe and solid manner from the back.

Further up the park O'Brien, keen to parade his dribbling ability, was prominent out wide, while Mixie Harty and Willie Enubele were all heart and honesty in the centre of the park. Harty and Enubele had the attitude and application to ensure it was a difficult evening in the west for Longford, who were eventually pegged back. Ahead of Harty and Enubele there was further cause for Salthill optimism because Graham Kelly demonstrated that he is a more than capable operator in a withdrawn role. All these factors ensure Johnny Glynn's Mervue will give Salthill plenty of respect and they will be completely aware that Devon have the potential to cause them bother.

Though there has been a string of setbacks, Glynn will have Conor Gleeson, Tom King, Gary Kelly, Gary Curran, Jason Molloy, and Ryan Manning primed for what promises to be an interesting collision with cross-town rivals Salthill.


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