Time for United to put Rovers through the Hoops

Galway United midfielder Alex Byrne who is an injury concern for Friday night's league tie with Shamrock Rovers.

THE battle to avoid the drop is still very much one which Galway United can win, but to do so they’ll need to end their worst run against any side when they host Shamrock Rovers AT Eamonn Deacy Park on Friday (7.45pm).

Shane Keegan’s side have taken nine points from their last four league games to give themselves a real shot at top-flight survival, and they were helped on Tuesday night when both Limerick (defeat to Shamrock Rovers) and Sligo Rovers (draw with Bray) dropped points at home.

United have a bit of momentum going into Friday’s game, and they’ll need every bit of that as they look to end a scarcely believable run of 16 consecutive league defeats against the Hoops, a run stretching all the way back to March 2010.

The Dublin side seem to have had something of a hex over United down through the year, with the Tribesmen winning just 11 of the 84 league meetings between the sides, but Keegan is confident his team can arrest that run this Friday night.

“Our league form has been very good in recent weeks, and we need to continue that and get in their faces from the start. Okay, when we played them in Tallaght, it was one of our worst performances of the season, up there with the first game away to Cork, but that night we were without Marc Ludden, Ronan Murray, and David Cawley, three big players for us.

“Hopefully we’ll have a full squad for Friday– there are slight concerns over Jonah Ayunga, Alex Byrne and Aaron Conway after they all picked up little knocks last weekend, but I would be hopeful they’ll be okay,” he said.

He was aware that United had a poor record against the Hoops, but was surprised it stretched to 16 consecutive games, and said that is something the players need to set right on Friday night.

“Is it that long? Wow. Look, I don’t know is it in the psyche or something, but there is no reason having a poor record historically should affect these players, it shouldn’t have an effect on Ronan Murray, on Gavan Holohan, on lads like that.

“Okay, if it was the GAA, maybe you’d understand it being a traditional thing, something that is imbedded in the psyche, but it shouldn’t impact on us. I was at Wexford Youths last year and we beat Rovers last year.”

Full preview in this week’s GalwayCity Tribune