Resilient Mervue could close gap on table toppers Longford

Suddenly following a four goal triumph over Finn Harps, possibilities exist for Mervue United who travel to the City Calling Stadium on the edge of Longford Town this Saturday evening.

Seven points divide table toppers Longford and fourth placed Mervue with Athlone Town and Waterford United in between and very centrally involved in the promotion mix. There had been a degree of uncertainty about Mervue considering their mixed form a month ago but, inspired by a particularly promising Ryan Manning performance, they dealt with Harps at Fahy's Field last Friday. Two victories and a draw in their past three fixtures ensure Mervue are firing once more and manager Johnny Glynn has them primed to finish the campaign strongly.

The Harps’ triumph has boosted them with three points and a significant amount of confidence, so Mervue will be keen to follow that dynamic display. Longford's cushion at the summit has been trimmed down considerably and the fact that they let a three goal lead slip in St Colman's Park against Cobh Ramblers last Saturday evening means a huge importance is now attached to the Mervue tussle.

Caught out in the closing stages by Salthill Devon a matter of weeks ago when conceding a last gasp penalty to squander a winning position, Longford's character is now being examined.

Longford's squad is fairly youthful, but the capture of Derek O'Brien brings a drop of class and experience too. It was O'Brien who spearheaded that Salthill revival on a balmy night in Drom, but the Tralee native is now an integral part of Tony Cousins' Longford squad. Mervue will know how crucial it is to ensure that O'Brien isn't permitted too much possession in wide areas as he can craft opportunities and earn free kicks too.

Jason Molloy's 19th minute goal commenced the Harps’ rout and second half efforts from Michael Duffy, Marc Ludden, and the exciting Manning sealed the deal. Such effective enterprise will be necessary in the midlands, but Mervue will make the short journey armed with hope and momentum.

Salthill Devon were plucky again in Lissywoolen on Friday, but they still weren't able to secure the point their enthusiasm deserved. Nine of Devon's 11 losses in the league have been by a single goal, so they have been competitive throughout the campaign.

Avoiding a conclusion to the season at the basement is the objective now and Cobh's stirring come from behind success over Longford was a noteworthy achievement. Six points currently separate Salthill from Cobh in the standings so their clash tomorrow is vital for Jumbo Brennan's charges. Bizarrely Cobh have the second best goalscoring record in the division so there is no doubt that they can attack, but they have the joint worst defensive figures alongside Salthill. Brennan has been forced to cope with a couple of departures, with O'Brien's guile sorely missed, but Devon are aware that a positive result must be gleaned when Cobh visit the west.

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