We are over a quarter of the way through the 2015 Airtricity League Premier Division season and Galway United sit second from bottom of the table, but there are definite reasons for optimism as Tommy Dunne’s men head into an important run of fixtures.
Disregard the 3-0 loss on Monday night to the champions Dundalk, coming three days after a draining victory over fellow relegation candidates Limerick on Friday night. This was the must-win game of the season so far for The Tribesmen, and although they put their supporters through the wringer as per usual, Dunne’s side got the job done.
But boy did they make hard work of it. Shots rained in on Limerick ‘keeper Conor O’Donnell for much of the evening but, after Kevin Garcia’s unfortunate own goal cancelled out Enda Curran’s opener from the spot, things got a bit tense as the clock ticked by and the natives wondered whether this would be an opportunity lost.
Make no bones about it, Limerick appear a side destined for the drop. Their financial upheaval has come at a good time for Galway, as Martin Russell’s squad looks ill-equipped to survive in the Premier Division on Friday night’s evidence.
While they did give Galway a scare late on after Curran and Gary Shanahan had netted, Vinny Faherty’s header proved a scant consolation. The crowd of 1,233 may have been United’s lowest of the campaign, but the victory should keep the punters coming back for more when St. Pat’s visit on May 1st.
An average attendance of 1,571 from five home games is probably about where the club’s hierarchy thought it might sit, but the tough summer months are still to come when Galway city’s many distractions can lead to a lot of empty seats if results turn sour.
So Galway look set for a battle to avoid the relegation play-off, with Bray, Drogheda, and Longford the other likely candidates. I am presuming here that Owen Heary can pull Sligo Rovers together to climb the ranks into mid-table obscurity, but stranger things have happened.
Dunne will be acutely aware of the importance of Saturday’s clash at The Carlisle Grounds. His side have yet to score, never mind claim a point, on their travels. Granted they have trekked to Tallaght, Turner’s Cross, Dalymount, and Oriel Park thus far, but this weekend will be the real acid test for Galway.
The Tribesmen’s back four has been severely unsettled to date due to injury and suspension, but it looks as though his strongest selection, which is arguably Colm Horgan, Sam Oji, Stephen Walsh, and Marc Ludden, should be all available on Saturday.
United desperately need a clean sheet (1 from 9) to at least claim a point (haven’t drawn a game yet), but a win would really kick-start their season. Pat’s, Derry (away), and Bohs (home) are next up and Galway could do with a dose of away-day confidence before they attack those fixtures.
Prediction: Heart-stopping (only way they know) 2-1 victory.