United are fit and focused for four-week survival stint

Galway United enter a defining four-week stint to save their SSE Airtricity premier league status with a trip to the Carlisle Grounds for a critical clash against Bray Wanderers on Saturday (3pm ).

Shane Keegan's improving team claimed two dramatic wins over Derry City and Sligo United to inject their survival hopes with momentum, and more importantly six points.

It remains an absorbing battle at the foot of the table as Finn Harps, Sligo Rovers, St Patrick's Athletic, and Limerick FC are all striving to retain top flight status. The grim reality is that two teams will join basement boys and already relegated Drogheda United in the first division next season. That is something Shane Keegan and his squad of players wish to avoid.

United simply need to continue showing the spirit, skill, and stamina that helped to earn positive results against Derry and Sligo. Those two edgy, but entertaining matches provided glimpses of what this promising United outfit can achieve.

While the Tribesmen endured a wretched start to the campaign littered with setbacks, there has been much to admire in recent months. Keegan deserves credit for the manner in which United have fought bravely, rescuing draws and victories with late goals. That has been one hugely encouraging aspect, alongside the potential of several exciting additions.

Rory Hale, one of those to arrive in the summer transfer window, has been rewarded for his industrious form with a Republic of Ireland U21 call-up. The Belfast youngster was immense in the Derry and Sligo triumphs, repeatedly driving United forward, assisted by David Cawley and Gavan Holohan, two fine midfielders. Niall Maher has trained following a hamstring complaint and his debut in Dalymount Park in the Bohemians draw suggested Keegan had unearthed another decent talent.

Colm Horgan's passion and leadership, Stephen Folan's poise, and Alex Byrne's aggression has assisted goalkeeper Conor Winn during the past month. Winn's importance to the United cause should not be underestimated, and his role in the last month of the season will be pivotal.

At the opposite end of the pitch United will trust the talented Padraic Cunningham and Eoin McCormack can lend valuable assistance to the splendid Ronan Murray. On the flanks Kevin Devaney and Marc Ludden have carried out different roles with admirable composure. The goals Ludden and Devaney bagged in the Sligo success were delightful and a further sign of their rich contribution.

Ultimately the upcoming contests with Bray, Pat's, Limerick, and Dundalk carry huge importance for the short term future of the club and the future of the League of Ireland game in Galway. Staying in the premier division is a mission United must accomplish.

Bray, sprinkled with experienced and decorated footballers, can still earn a European place, so this promises to be a demanding assignment. Keegan has United fit and focused, though, ahead of the first of four crunch fixture in October.

•Galway United Friends Co-Operative is running a bus to the premier division match at the Carlisle Grounds on Saturday, leaving The Dail Bar, Cross Street, at 11.30am, and picking up en route to Dublin. Contact Dominick Walsh (087 ) 9163438 or Ronan Coleman (087 ) 6972823.


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