GALWAY FC are on the road for the second successive week when they make what is, all things considered, the relatively short hop to City Calling Stadium tomorrow (Saturday) to take on Longford Town (7.30pm) as the second round of games gets underway in the SSE Airtricity League First Division.
The 140-mile round trip to Longford is the nearest thing to a derby for Galway FC this season, as this year’s campaign will see them clock up almost 4,000 miles on away trips with the First Division inhabited by clubs from the league’s outposts – Finn Harps in the North West, Cobh Ramblers in the South, and Wexford Youths in the South East.
“We gave the lads the weekend off after the Wexford game, it was 3am when we got home, it is a long trek, down there. They were back in on Monday and they trained Tuesday as well, and are training tonight (Thursday) so we’re ready for Saturday’s game,” Dunne told City Sport yesterday.
That long journey home last Friday night was softened somewhat by the fact Dunne’s side took all three points from their encounter with Wexford Youths thanks to Ryan Manning’s clever header just past the hour mark which saw them record their second win in seven league games.
“It was a tough game, and to be honest for the first 20 or 25 minutes we were giving ball away, we weren’t at pitch of match and were lucky to come in 0-0 at half time, but I know in other matches we have dominated and haven’t got rub of green in regards of goals, so we’ll take the win, and I think as the game went on, we were growing stronger all the time.
“That’s why it was an easy decision to give the lads the weekend off after the long journey – fitness isn’t an issue, you can tell the lads who were with Mervue and Salthill last year, they obviously trained well, and we just need to take that on a bit now but I don’t think fitness is an issue for us,” he said.
What has been an issue is his side’s inability to take their chances – Dunne suggests his side has left at least four points behind them from their opening seven games purely because his side didn’t take anywhere near enough of the chances they have been creating.
“We’re still creating chances, we just have to be a little bit more fluent. We will look to maybe strengthen the squad in June or July, we have a couple of players in mind but to be honest, we’ll only do it if it is within our budget.
“We have a budget and we will stick to that – there is no point putting things at risk by chasing things by bringing in a lot of players that we can’t afford. I am happy with the squad we have, obviously there is always room for improvement, but if that improvement comes in the shape of new players, it certainly won’t come at any cost,” Dunne says.
As for tomorrow night’s game, it marks the first in the second round of fixtures in the league – it is hard to believe that we are still in the month of April, and already the first quarter of the campaign is out of the way.
For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune
Galway United’s chance to close gap on table-toppers Shels
Friday the 13th – unlucky for some – and Galway United will be hoping it is an unlucky night for runaway leaders Shelbourne on Friday evening. Shels, who are currently 10 points clear of second place United, are still unbeaten in this year’s First Division with 12 wins and six draws to their name.
The Tribesmen go into this week’s pivotal fixture after a disappointing 3-2 defeat against Cork City last Friday at Eamonn Deacy Park. The game had a ‘hit-and-run’ feel to it as Colin Healy’s side snatched all three points with ten minutes to go which ended United’s seven-game unbeaten league run.
BY TOM BYRNE
Even so, United replaced Treaty United in second place on goal difference after the Limerick outfit were defeated 4-1 by Cabinteely at the Markets Field.
Shelbourne have been the team to beat this season as they look odds-on to win this season’s First Division with nine games to go. Ian Morris’ side were hampered by a number of Covid cases in their squad for last week’s game against UCD, where they drew 0-0 at the UCD Bowl. It is expected that they will have players returning for their crucial clash against United at Terryland.
The two clubs have faced each other on 75 occasions. Shelbourne being victorious the more often with 39 wins, United defeating the north-Dubliners 17 times and 19 games ending in stalemate. United have hit the Shels net 86 times while the 2019 First Division winners have scored on 132 occasions against United.
The two teams played out a 0-0 draw at Eamonn Deacy Park in the first game this season, while Shelbourne had the upper hand in the reverse fixture when they overcame United 4-0 at Tolka Park in May.
Goal friendly Shels have struck 36 goals in 18 games so far this campaign, with former Shamrock Rovers man Ryan Brennan bagging ten of those. United will look to Wilson Waweru and Ruairi Keating for their main source of goals, with the latter hitting the net on seven occasions this season. Waweru brought his goal tally to six last week when he scored United’s first equalising goal against Cork City.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the soccer preview, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.
Lomboto’s late strike earns United share of the spoils
Galway United 2
Athlone Town 2
GALWAY United had to twice come from behind against basement side Athlone Town on Monday night to snatch a draw that was, on balance, probably a little harsh on the visiting side.
Completely outplayed in the opening 45 minutes, United had an absolute howler from visiting goalkeeper, Aaron Myles, to thank for going into the break on level terms; and then needed an equaliser five minutes from time to claim a draw against a side that came into the game having lost all four games they had played this season.
Alan Murphy’s side already find themselves nine points behind the league leaders just four games into the season, and a major improvement is needed if they are to finish in the top half of the table and inside the play-off spots.
Their central midfield was way off the mark on Monday night – both Maurice Nugent and Sam Warde were hauled ashore before the final whistle – and having abandoned the 4-4-2 formation which delivered some decent results near the end of last season, they are struggling to get quality ball into the opposition box.
With Shane Duggan expected to return to central midfield after suspension for this Saturday’s trip to Cobh Ramblers, it might be time to go with some out-and-out wingers and get some cohesion in the side.
The first couple of half chances on Monday fell to the home side, but Mikey Place didn’t get any power behind his second minute effort; while Marc Ludden was well off target subsequently.
The visitors, who had the opening half’s best player in their ranks in the guise of Galway native, Ronan Manning, went close a couple of times themselves in the ninth minute, United surviving thanks to Cian Murphy getting a block on Adam Lennon’s shot; while Kevin Horgan pulled off a ‘worldie’ to deny Joel Coustrain from the subsequent corner.
By that stage, the visitors were starting to get on top, and they took a deserved lead in the 22nd minute when Manning’s corner from the left was met by Taner Dogan at the back post to head home as the United marking was, not for the first time this season, shambolic at a set-piece.
Tempers were starting to fray a little, with both sides having two players finding their way into the notebook of Dublin referee, Oliver Moran, before United were gifted an equaliser in the 41st minute.
Full report in this week’s Connacht Tribune
Doyle bags hat-trick in Galway WFC romp
GALWAY WFC notched a second win in a row in the Women’s National League when they defeated Limerick 6-1 at the Markets Field on Sunday afternoon.
A McKenna Doyle hat trick and goals from Sadbh Doyle, Chloe Singleton and Aoife Thompson helped the Galway women to a resounding win. Five of the six goals for Galway were assisted by Lynsey McKey during what was a stellar performance by the experienced midfielder.
Galway WFC are back in action at Eamonn Deacy Park tomorrow (Saturday, kick off 3pm) when they welcome league leaders Peamount United.
See full match report in City Tribune Sport.