THE game against St Patrick’s Athletic is scoreless as it enters the 91st minute, with Galway United needing to find a goal from somewhere to preserve their top-flight status.
They win a corner at the car-park end of the Dyke Road ground, and maroon shirts pack the penalty area as the Dublin side withdraw every man to defend the set-piece.
The ball is delivered into the forest of bodies, and it is United’s captain who rises highest to meet the ball on the edge of the six-yard box and power home a header for a crucial winner to spark celebrations on the pitch, and pandemonium in the stands.
That scenario is not so much a prediction of what is to come tonight – though any United fan will take such an outcome – but rather the finishing stages of a game between United and St Patrick’s Athletic in Terryland Park back in April 2000.
United needed a win that night to avoid a relegation play-off, after Waterford United had taken the lead against Finn Harps down in the RSC, and it was Billy Clery who played a captain’s role, getting on the end of Sean Malee’s corner to head past Trevor Wood.
St Patrick’s Athletic provide the opposition again tonight (7.45pm) in Eamonn Deacy Park in a game United need to win to save their top-flight status; but unlike 17 years ago when the visitors were chasing a European spot, the Richmond Park club are also battling for their top-flight status.
The two sides go into tonight’s game with just a point between the sides, United in 10th on 33 points with Pats one place and one point above them in the table, and there has been little between the sides in their two previous league meetings this season.
In both games, United came from a goal down to score an equaliser, something which Kevin Devaney – going into the game on a run of scoring in three consecutive games – says highlights the character in the United squad.
For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.