Five SSE Airtricity League first division victories in a row ensure Galway FC travel to Tolka Park tomorrow loaded with confidence ahead of a crucial clash with Shelbourne.
Johnny McDonnell's Dubliners are currently second in the table, and an away win for Galway would see them climb above Shelbourne in the standings. The stakes are piled high for Galway as Tommy Dunne's outfit are aware that one point in the remaining two fixtures will secure a coveted play/off berth.
That is chiefly because of Ryan Manning's coolness when converting a last-gasp pressure penalty in Saturday's stirring success over Cobh Ramblers at St Colman's Park.
Cobh had been rugged throughout a tense match in which Galway's influential midfielder Ryan Connolly was red carded in controversial fashion. Still Galway stayed the distance as teenager Manning emerged as the hero when accepting responsibility in the closing stages.
Dunne was thrilled by the attitude Galway demonstrated when stern questions were being posed by a gritty Cobh side.
“We showed great character,” was Dunne's verdict. “Going down to 10 men, to win was important. The three points are huge for us. It gives us a lead over Wexford Youths going into the last two matches. We still have to get over the line, we have to try to beat Shelbourne to try to get second, that’s what we’re after.”
Danny Furlong's opportunism during Tuesday's Ferrycarrig Park encounter between Wexford and Finn Harps means Galway's match with Shels carries huge relevance.
The tough underfoot conditions in Cobh scarcely aided Galway's cause, but Dunne is looking forward to the clash with Shels at the Drumcondra venue. “We will need to be better against Shelbourne, but we’ll be in Tolka Park with a proper pitch, we should be able to play,” Dunne reckons.
“On a normal pitch, we would say get playing and do what we do and go from there. but I’m afraid we had to change our tactics [against Cobh]. We’ve drilled ourselves to be a football team, not to be whacking it up the pitch.
“In saying that, we conceded from a set piece, which was sloppy. The set piece comes from us not putting a boot through the ball. It’s very difficult because it’s natural for the lads to try to play but we’ll move and we’ll take the three points.”
Connolly will be suspended for the upcoming Shelbourne and Wexford Youths assignments, but Dunne feels Galway can cope with former Salthill Devon youngster Alex Byrne a versatile and capable footballer with the ability to make a significant impact in the centre of the park according to Dunne. “We’ve a squad, I expect Alex Byrne to come in and do the business which he’s capable of.”