Keegan hails side’s spirit as wins turn season around

Galway United manager Shane Keegan:
Galway United manager Shane Keegan: "I think we played better on at least four or five occasions before Friday or Monday but it was just that luck had gone against us time and time again in those previous games."

Talking Sport with Stephen Glennon

They say a week is a long time in politics. It would appear in sport, however, that saying is more applicable to a Bank Holiday Weekend.

For in the space of three days, Galway United have breathed a new lease of life into their season. On Friday, United – who currently sit bottom of the Premier Division – hosted reigning champions Dundalk and instead of suffering the large defeat many expected them to, Shane Keegan’s outfit struck for a goal deep into injury-time to pick up their first league win of their campaign.

Three days later, Galway United faced rivals Sligo Rovers in the quarter-final of the EA Sports Cup and, despite manager Keegan making nine changes to the starting line-up that clipped Dundalk’s wings, they still came away with a victory – on penalties – over their opponents. All of a sudden, there are rainbows over Éamonn Deacy Park again.

“It was a super few days overall,” reflects Keegan on his squad’s ‘down day’ on Tuesday. “Anyone who would have been there regularly though would have seen that our results weren’t really a fair reflection, that we had been playing very well.

“However, one, we weren’t quite clinical enough in our games and, two, every slight error that we were making seemed to get punished with a goal almost every time. In fairness to the lads, they never dropped the heads at any stage. They didn’t go into the blame game. They just kept working hard in the hope they would get their reward and thankfully that was the case on Friday night.”

Up to this point, Galway United were in danger of being cut adrift at the bottom of the table but now they are just one win away of dragging themselves out of the basement – and two from leaping out of the relegation zone altogether. They also have a game in hand over their rivals in the bottom six.

So, while psychologically, their Premier Division win over the champions was a big one, at the end of the day, those three points have made a hell of a difference to United’s ambitions of retaining their place in the top flight. Keegan agrees.

“Absolutely. It is so tight. If you get on a run in this division, you can shoot up a number of spots so quickly but it is hard to get on a run because there are so many evenly matched teams. That said, if we were to win on Friday (against Drogheda) and win on Monday (game in hand against Derry City), we could be mid-table on Tuesday morning. That is an absolutely great incentive.”

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.