Galway United's victory over Longford Town on Saturday at Eamonn Deacy Park was both valuable and necessary as a particularly interesting SSE Airtricity League premier division relegation battle continues.
Limerick FC's stunning revival means Sligo Rovers, Drogheda United, Longford, Derry City, and United are all very much in danger of the drop. That is why a positive result against any of those teams is significant, and United were worthy winners when defeating the midlanders.
Jake Keegan's smooth opportunism was rewarded with a hat-trick, while Gary Shanahan also rattled a fine effort. Galway's four goals had the Tribesmen firmly in control before Longford launched a late comeback. Substitute Dean Kelly hit a brace, including a controversial penalty, but United held on.
A satisfied Galway manager Tommy Dunnie said it was a huge win.
"It was crucial to win against Longford, but to be honest there is going to have to be a lot more wins between now and the end of the season. Everybody is fighting for their lives. Limerick have gone on an unbelievable run.
“I was disappointed by the manner in which we conceded the goals, but overall it was a good result. It is a result that sends a message to people out there who felt we were heading in the wrong direction regarding our state of mind and belief."
Ravaged by injuries throughout the campaign, it was encouraging to see United field a near full strength XI. Ryan Connolly's creative ability in the current Galway set-up is well documented, so it was unsurprising such a dynamic display coincided with his welcome return to action.
“We were on the back of a lot of defeats, but we had a lot of injury problems,” Dunne said. “Key players in our group weren’t available. I think those guys coming back gave the group a boost and we played well for periods of the game.
“If we can have everybody fit and healthy, we can give anybody a match. We were four nil up, but we then conceded two goals and Longford were really pressing towards the end of the game.
“If we can keep everybody fit and healthy, and do our preparation and homework right, then we feel we can be competitive. Is that enough? I don’t know, but what I do know is these guys are up for the fight. If you’re up for the fight, then you have every chance to try to stay in the premier division.
"When we came into this division we knew it was going to be difficult. We were lacking a bit of creativity in recent weeks. We looked like we had a bit more of it back. Clean sheets are important, but it was important we picked up a few goals because goal difference is going to be important at the end too. We won, we got three points, we know have to get ourselves and our mindset right to play the League Cup final.”
United do not play again until the EA Sports Cup final against St Patrick's Athletic on September 19 ensuring Galway's schedule will be stuffed with critical encounters in the next two months.
“We have to stay in the premier division. It is the lifeblood of this club. We have no divine right. Limerick are on an unbelievable run, but everybody is scrapping. We are scrapping. We have got to scrap. The league is the priority, but there is also a major trophy at stake in the League Cup final.
“They don’t come around too often. As a player I used to think that a cup final would come around every season, but it doesn’t work like that. You might never get to a cup final after this one. When it comes around you have to make the most of it. That is what we are going to try to do.”
GUST Table Quiz
Galway United Supporters Trust will hold a general knowledge table quiz at The Dail Bar, Cross Street, Galway, on Tuesday, September 15 (9pm ). The entry fee is €40, with EA Sports Cup Final match tickets and other prizes on offer. GUST will have a stand at the Galway Shopping Centre, Headford Road, this Saturday from 10am to 6pm. EA Sports Cup Final tickets will be on sale.