Fortunate to survive a tricky test from North End United in the FAI Cup, Galway United are back in Eamonn Deacy Park tomorrow evening when they host Cork City in the SSE Aitricity League premier division.
Jake Keegan’s early goal nudged the Tribesmen into the last 16 of the cup at the weekend, but manager Tommy Dunne says his team must improve for the clash with the Leesiders.
“If we play like we did against North End, we won't be picking up three points – simple,” Dunne says. “We want these games at home, here in one of the best grounds in the country, but we need to step up.
"I think we will be fine, but as I said it last week, games like that with North End give you a reality check.”
Despite the patchy performance, Dunne is content Galway avoided a replay in Wexford.
“I was happy with the win. We are in the next round of the cup, and that was probably one of the few positives from the evening."
Dunne says his players "haven't looked themselves" in their work rate, passion, and desire to win since the Drogheda game, although Jake Keegan was one of the "bright lights".
"Overall we were too open, giving up too much of the play. Also defensively we looked shaky, but we survived, and we are in the next round of the cup.
“I wouldn't be disrespectful in any way. I thought North End were good - they probably played the better football over the course of the game. They had chances and they probably deserved something more out of the game.”
The North End tussle was always going to be awkward, but Dunne says his young squad now needs to stay focused before the mid season break and learn lessons.
“You are dealing with a team that you don't know a huge amount about, but the game is the same. At different times I thought we were just off the pace of the game in a number of aspects of our game. It has to improve, but I wouldn't take anything away from the performance of North End. We didn't perform particularly well, but we survived to fight another day.
“It is important we learn from the game. Yes, we are in the next round, but our team, and what we have been trying to do, is based on our work rate. We might need to look at a few things. One or two look a little bit tired, but they are all honest guys."
Being in the top flight is a significant challenge which Galway are delighted to embrace, according to Dunne.
“We have stepped up our training. We are training during the day. Not a huge amount on last year, but we are doing a bit more. The intensity of the games is much higher. We are where we want to be, but at different times the basics of the game are letting us down."
New York attacker Keegan was "happy" his goal from an acute angle guided Galway into the third round of the cup.
“It was a tight angle. I probably should have crossed it,” Keegan said. “It rolled into the net and I was happy about that. It wasn't the best performance, but we need to see what we can do to improve as a unit."