Galway United host Athlone Town in a pre-season friendly at Eamonn Deacy Park on Saturday evening, kick off 7.30 pm.Tommy Dunne's charges are undergoing a robust pre season having played out a scoreless draw with Finn Harps at Moyne Villa's grounds in Headford last Friday. The squad followed that fixture with a 2-0 victory over Jumbo Brennan's NUIG Collingwood Cup squad in Mervue on Tuesday morning.
Goals from Enda Curran and Padraic Cunningham ensured United defeated the Students'.
Athlone had a handsome 4-1 success over Cork City, while they also drew with Bohemians at Dalymount Park on Sunday as new manager Eddie Wallace hopes to launch an SSE Airtricity League First Division promotion bid.
Dunne is satisfied with how his squad is preparing for their return to Premier Division football at Eamonn Deacy Park on March 6  when Derry City will be the visitors. “With the bodies at the moment pre-season is very hard,” Dunne says about the intensive fitness programme the Galway squad are undergoing.
“On Monday we did a running session so the boys were stiff and sore playing the game on Tuesday against NUIG.
“For the guys who were out there it was good for the likes of Jake Keegan to get 90 minutes. Other guys got 90 minutes too, but overall we are delighted with the general conditioning of the group. We are still small numbers wise, but it was a great workout for us and for NUIG, who have the Collingwood Cup soon.
“It is busy regarding matches and we are getting the games in. We’ve done quite a bit of work, but a couple of the players need to step up to get themselves right. We will get there over a period of time. You need games to get going.
“I will be truthful, though, and we just want guys to be physically ready for the season. That is the main thing. I do think they’ve been
working hard doing their pitch and gym sessions. When you get on to the park to play matches it doesn’t lie. It will show whether you’ve
been doing that work properly or not.”
The Derry City opening game is working its way into supporters' consciousness in a real way. The Candystripes' were certainly boosted by the capture of striker Anthony Elding last week. United, though, in turn were lifted by the return at the weekend of Keegan who left an indelible mark on the club with his superb performances in 2014. “When Jake gets opportunities he usually takes them,” Dunne says. "Conditioning wise you are never worried about Jake from that aspect. He is a proper professional. Overall we are delighted to have him back.”
Former Athlone winger Ian Sweeney has featured in United's two pre-season fixtures so far as Dunne expects to announce new signings
imminently. “We are hoping to have three or four more additions over the next few days. We haven’t made any decisions on Ian yet. He played
against NUIG and Finn Harps, we have him in for a week. He has played in the League, he has played for Athlone. Obviously the lad has something, but we will have to look at it. As a club we will make a decision over the next few days.”