Six SSE Airtricity League First Division remain for Galway FC, who will be hoping to build on their much improved recent form when hosting Waterford United at Eamonn Deacy Park tomorrow evening.
In the past fortnight Galway have beaten Longford Town in the League and though Tommy Dunne's side exited the FAI Ford Cup following a defeat against Premier Division table toppers Dundalk, there was plenty to admire about how the visitors competed at Oriel Park. Despite losing the Lilywhites tie, Dunne took positives from last Friday's display. “We set ourselves up to make sure that first and foremost we would be difficult to beat,” was Dunne's verdict.
“In the game itself I thought it was working reasonably well. There were one or two little areas that were causing us problems, but in general I don’t think they were opening us up too much.
“We made a mistake in the first half to concede the first goal and once you concede it’s difficult, but we said to ourselves “Keep it right as long as we possibly can” to see can we possibly go for the game and we got back into it late on with Padraic Cunningham’s goal, but you’re coming to a place where nobody has beaten Dundalk all season and you can understand why.”
Dunne's youngsters did cause Dundalk some bother during a lively affair and the Galway boss feels that Stephen Kenny's squad is particularly strong. “They’re a really good outfit that are moving exceptionally well and I knew that when I came to watch them. I knew it was going to be a tough ask but I thought the players acquitted themselves really, really well.
“We were organised and the lads worked hard together and on another day you might have got away with it, you might have picked up something but I’m afraid whether it’s the way we played or if you go all out attack against other teams, it’s the basic things of a decision or you making a mistake that can cost you.”
Ultimately John Mountney's delightful strike gave Dundalk a two goal cushion and while Cunningham made a significant impact following his introduction, sufficient damage had been inflicted by the home team. Dunne was disappointed a defensive lapse early in the match proved so costly. “The second goal I don’t mind, you can understand when a fella hits such a fantastic strike, then okay, good luck to him. But when you concede a sloppy one and we nearly conceded a sloppy second goal from playing around at the back, which we said we weren’t going to do.
“We’re not used to playing on the artificial surface, Dundalk are,
week in, week out. It was our first time there and it’s a difficult surface to play on when you don’t know it.”
A prolific goalscorer in the underage ranks, Cunningham has the cut of a footballer with the ability to emerge as a serious operator at the highest level domestically. Cunningham has the pace and potential to make further progress with Galway. “When Padraic Cunningham came on he was a threat, he’s a big boy and he can run and if we can work on the other side of his game then he’s going to be a player for the future, there’s no doubt.
“He’s been training hard, he’s learning quite a bit, he’s making the step up and he looks like physically he can make the step up. That’s important for us to produce some players ourselves and I think Padraic will play a part between now and the end of the season.”
The win over Longford injected Galway with confidence and maintaining that level of performance for the rest of the year is what Dunne intends to do. “We’ve a huge six weeks ahead of us, it’s important for us to be there or thereabouts to get a play-off spot and if we can get to a playoff then who knows.”