With each passing week Galway United's SSE Airtricity League premier division matches are increasing in significance, so tomorrow's Connacht derby with Sligo Rovers at Eamonn Deacy Park will be revealing.
Surprisingly Owen Heary's Sligo have only registered two points from their opening half dozen encounters, while Galway's record currently stands at one win in six fixtures. Ultimately it means the clash carries huge importance for both clubs, keen to deliver a performance at the Corribside venue.
Last Friday United lost 3-0 to Shamrock Rovers at Tallaght Stadium in the league, but Tommy Dunne's side responded in the EA Sports Cup on Monday. Despite conceding an early goal Galway, inspired by Padraic Cunningham's brace, secured a 4-2 triumph over Cockhill Celtic.
Andy O'Connell and Gary Shanahan were Galway's other goalscorers in the Cockhill success which pleased manager Dunne.
“We are obviously delighted to be in the next round,” Dunne said. “In fairness to Cockhill they gave us a tough match. In the first half especially they were in the game and got after us. I’m just delighted to get through. To get four goals was great - Padraic got two - so it is nice to get into the next round. We are in the quarter finals now.”
That has brought some encouragement for Dunne, who was heartened by how his young side coped following a shaky start against Cockhill.
“I thought in the second half we looked a bit more assured and a bit more threatening. We had a threat in the team which is important. Again we are playing on Friday. No disrespect to Cockhill, but it will be a step up. We have to make sure we are up and at it for Friday.”
Andy O'Connell, Cunningham, and Alex Byrne, who continues to impress, all suffered knocks in the Cockhill tie and Dunne accepted that injuries and suspensions have caused United severe problems during the past two months.
“I’m afraid every week we are re-assessing all the time. We are looking at either picking up red cards or we are picking up niggly injuries. Andy’s injury was more of a contact one on the ankle so we will have to judge that. Hopefully we will have Dave O’Leary back available, Enda Curran should be back available. ”
Pat Fenlon's Hoops had too much craft for Galway in the capital even though Dunne felt his team attempted to approach and play the game in the correct manner.
“It was a disappointing result for us against Shamrock Rovers. We did create a number of chances, but in saying that, I thought we were up against a top team. The way they moved the ball, the way they played - it is a learning curve for us.
“For us the positives were that we had some good play at different times, we created a number of games in the game. We didn’t take them, but the first goal we conceded was avoidable. To give Shamrock Rovers’ credit I thought they were good regarding the playing aspect. When you concede soft goals, it is going to cost you.”
If United are to start troubling teams in the top flight, “eradicating mistakes” is critical, according to Dunne. “The basic mistakes we are making is the difference. When you’re fully right those little mistakes don’t happen.
“In the league we need to eradicate making mistakes. We need to get to the pitch of the premier division to start picking up points. I wouldn’t be overly anxious or too concerned. I thought we were up against a decent outfit last Friday. There has been no continuity and until such time that we get continuity in the team, it is going to be tough.”