Utd hope for derby delight to climb out of drop zone

Alex Byrne (left) is expected to start on Saturday night, after David Cawley (right) was handed a one-match ban, as was fellow central midfielder, Gavan Holohan.
Alex Byrne (left) is expected to start on Saturday night, after David Cawley (right) was handed a one-match ban, as was fellow central midfielder, Gavan Holohan.

Galway United return from the mini mid-season break this Saturday with a trip to a ground where they have a wretched record as they travel to the Showgrounds to take on Sligo Rovers (7.45pm).

With both sides in the relegation zone, neither can afford to lose both the game, and further ground in the scramble to get out of the bottom three by the end of the season, but Shane Keegan’s side go into the game as massive underdogs.

United have won in just three of their previous 37 visits to the ground, the most recent of which was in March 1996 when Mark Herrick and John ‘Jumbo’ Brennan scored the goals in a 2-0 win.

Since then, the Tribesmen have played 20 Connacht derbies in the league at the ground and have the managed just seven draws, with 13 defeats.

Yes, the personnel have obviously changed over the years, but there just seems to be some little quirk where United struggle at the ground, though some of the older and more ‘parochial’ fans still remember with fondness the Dave Goldbey goal at the venue in April 2000 which ensured a draw for United, and relegated the home side to the First Division.

United’s bid to improve their record at the venue hasn’t been helped by the news that the club’s two starting central midfielders will both miss the game. David Cawley and Gavan Holohan will both be watching from the stands after each was handed a one-match ban, which comes into force this week, for the accumulation of five yellow cards.

That means that Alex Byrne is certain to start in the heart of the midfield, where he is likely to be joined by Paul Sinnott, who recently made his 200th appearance for the club.

There is less certainty about what new faces – if any – have come into the club now that the June transfer window is open.

Recent Connacht Junior Cup winners, Ballinasloe Town AFC, posted on its Facebook page on Tuesday that Eric McCormack – who scored a hat-trick in their 3-2 win over West United in the cup final – had signed for United.

However, at the time of going to press, the club had not issued any statement on McCormack, or the addition of a new goalkeeper following Ciaran Nugent’s departure; while Keegan had also not returned a call to Tribune Sport.

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