Galway teams can’t cope with step up in class

Keith Kelly 

GALWAY interest in this year’s FAI Cup competition ended on Friday night as both Mervue United and Salthill Devon suffered 2-0 defeats which leaves them to concentrate on the league – for possibly the very last time – for the rest of the season.

When the draw was made the clash of Bray Wanderers and Mervue United looked the most likely to produce a shock result, as Bray were floundering at the bottom of the top flight, while Mervue were enjoying their best-ever start to a campaign.

However, in the weeks since that draw was made, Bray have turned their season around with three wins out of four in the league, while at the same time that Mervue have hit a mini-slump with three defeats on the bounce going into last Friday night’s clash in the Carlisle Grounds – and any hope of that shock result manifesting were ended midway through the first-half when the home side had opened a two goal cushion to assume total control of the tie.

“I’m disappointed, but certainly not disheartened. Bray are a very good side, they have shown that with their recent results, and they are certainly a far better team than Longford Town, who are leading our division.

“There was a big gulf there between the sides, but my lads never gave up, they kept trying, they kept working hard, and they’ll learn from playing against of Bray’s experience, of playing against the likes of Jason Byrne and Gary Dempsey,” Mervue manager Johnny Glynn said after the game.

Mervue were missing a few experienced players of their own, with Gary Curran (knee) and Marc Ludden (stomach bug) both ruled out; while Glynn decided that, having told Noel Varley he was being rested for the tie, it would have been wrong to turn to him in light of Ludden’s absence.

However the absence Mervue most felt on Friday night was Mike Elwood, who has emigrated to the US – the game would have suited his physicality, and you suspect two-goal strike Jason Byrne would not have had matters so easy with Elwood shadowing him.

“We had a very young team out there, and they did well. Gary Shanahan was full of running, his end product wasn’t what it should be, but he is just hitting peak fitness now as he didn’t have a pre-season, so I’m expecting him to continue to improve.

“Ryan Manning did well when he came on, the only thing is we didn’t get the ball to him often enough. I thought we looked most threatening when playing the ball to feet, but we didn’t do it often enough. You have to give credit to Bray as well, they are a very good team who played a patient game and had their homework done.