A revealing Friday evening at Eamonn Deacy Park looms for Galway FC when unbeaten Shelbourne visit the west for a crucial SSE Airtricity League first division encounter.
Johnny McDonnell's Shelbourne outfit has made an enterprising start to the campaign, winning three and drawing two as the Dubliners currently top the table. The Shels' squad is stocked with experienced domestic performers ensuring Galway FC will receive a significant examination.
Martin Conneely, named the club's Galway Irish Crystal Player of the Month for March, accepts the Shelbourne fixture will provide an accurate barometer as to where the western team really stands.
“This is a very important game for us and we will want to build on what we did against Cobh Ramblers,” the promising 23-years-old defender says. “That was a good win, but we are under no illusions. Shelbourne will give us a stern test and we will need to be at our best to get a result.”
Galway trail Shels by five points, but Conneely is adamant the Corribsiders are developing nicely. Local youngsters are being given a chance to demonstrate their talents at the Dyke Road venue and it is a challenge Conneely is delighted to embrace.
“This is a very exciting time for a lot of lads in our squad. There is a good set up, we train four times a week, and we have a game every weekend too.
“I think Galway FC is a great place for us to improve and I want to keep improving. The fact that we are trying to play in the right manner is good and is something we all enjoy doing,” Conneely says.
“It is very early in the season, but the win against Cobh was a boost to our confidence. We just have to take each game one by one now. Shelbourne will bring a good and experienced squad to Galway, and we have to be ready for them.”
Shelbourne were too crafty for Finn Harps at Tolka Park on Friday with goals from Gareth Coughlan and Keith Quinn proving decisive. McDonnell is a shrewd operator with Philly Hand, Brian Gannon, Jordan Keegan, and Coughlan all decent players at this level.
Dunne admits Shelbourne must be given the utmost respect.
“We are looking forward to it. We want as many big games as we can get for everybody involved. That is why we are all here, why the club is in existence. We want good games,” says Dunne.
“Shels is an experienced team. They will be strong and dogged. It will be a different type of game to the Cobh game, but I think we have enough in our group to give them a good match. The lads work their socks off week-in week-out in games and in training. Mistakes will be made, we know that, but I am happy to work with any lad that is putting in the work we are putting in.”