Confident Mervue head south for tussle with Cobh

With three wins and a draw posted in their past four matches Mervue United will spin down to St Colman's Park with plenty of confidence ahead of Saturday's vital Airtricity League First Division encounter against Cobh Ramblers.

Suddenly third placed Mervue have trimmed the gap on table toppers Athlone Town to four points and last Saturday's stirring success over Longford Town leaves them in an interesting position to make a promotion push. Despite falling behind to a David O'Sullivan goal Mervue recovered summoning a smart second half display to punish a stuttering Longford.

Tony Cousins' charges had been perched on the summit for vast chunks of the campaign, but they are now extremely worried with midlands rivals Athlone revitalised under Roddy Collins and Mervue growing in conviction and belief too. That is exactly what Mervue demonstrated at the City Calling Stadium.

Gary Shanahan levelled before the break and then nudged Mervue ahead with 12 minutes on the clock. Longford briefly pushed for an equaliser, but they were caught on when Stephen Walsh sealed the deal for Mervue.

Three points were pocketed by Mervue, who will be aware that a similarly dynamic display will be necessary in Cobh because they have prevailed in four out of nine on home turf.

Mervue are heartened by what happened in Longford as it was only their second road triumph of the season, but it arrived at a crucial stage. Efficient at Fahy's Field Mervue need to keep picking up results away from home and they will be primed to do so again this weekend. Mervue's last visit to this particular Munster venue culminated in a mad 5-3 loss at the end of a highly controversial tussle.

The recent evidence, though, suggests that promising goalkeeper Connor Gleeson will receive decent protection from a defence that has been well marshalled by Martin Conneely. In the centre of the park Gary Curran and Noel Varley form a capable partnership with the attacking talents of Gary Shanahan, Jason Molloy, and Ryan Manning allowed to prosper.

Salthill Devon are bracing themselves for another important 90 minutes tomorrow at Drom when they host Waterford United.

It was an uncertain week off the park for the Blues, who were in serious danger of going out of business only to be saved by a loyal group of supporters. Between the white chalk lines it has been a slightly disappointing spell for Waterford, but they are still only five points off Athlone so they have huge incentive.

Salthill, much improved since May outfoxed Cobh Ramblers courtesy of a splendid Craig Harding strike. That result was achieved with a gritty defensive effort and Salthill must recapture such drive and desire when Waterford visit the west.

Jumbo Brennan's plans have been disturbed by several key departures, but Robbie Gaul, Alex Byrne, Mixie Harty, Willie Enubele, Oscar Sibanda, and Enda Curran contributed when Cobh were beaten.

Waterford, still quietly optimistic about returning to the top flight, will pose further questions of Salthill's resolve, but with three victories registered in their last half dozen League fixtures Brennan's young side are developing.

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