MERVUE United and Salthill Devon will lock horns for the third time in the Airtricity League First Division this season when they meet in Fahy’s Field on Saturday (5pm) – in a game that has greater significance for the outfit on the East side of the City than it does for their West end opponents.
Quite simply, if fifth placed Mervue are to keep pace with those teams above them in the First Division table they must secure all three points in this derby fixture. Otherwise, after a bright start to their campaign, they could slump further down the league table and, possibly, finish the season lingering with Devon at the bottom.
That would be a serious reversal in fortunes given all they have invested in the current campaign but despite a 3-0 loss away to Athlone Town last Friday, Mervue boss Johnny Glynn was remaining upbeat this week. “It’s not a bad way to be coming into the game and the players themselves are really looking forward to it,” said Glynn.
In many respects, it is an opportunity for Mervue to exorcise the demons of last weekend, although they will be facing a Devon outfit that will be buoyed by their 1-1 draw at home to league leaders Longford Town.
“Salthill Devon have been improving,” agreed Glynn, “and it was a very good result for them last weekend, especially getting a result from that game [against Longford] with a late goal. So, they will of course be on a high from that.”
Despite a positive start to 2013, Mervue began to struggle as they headed for the mid-Summer break, which was punctuated by a 2-0 loss to Wexford Youths in mid June and the 3-0 defeat to Athlone upon their return last Friday.
Just as he had been back in the April tie between Mervue and Athlone, referee Ray Matthews was once again the centre of attention. In that Spring meeting, he awarded a controversial penalty to Athlone which cost Mervue all three points and he was again to the fore last weekend when sending off Mervue defender Martin Conneely in the seventh minute.
Glynn admitted the appointment of Matthews before the game had a “negative impact” on his players while he was also critical of the referee in the sending off of Conneely, describing the red card as “a dubious decision”.
In any event, Mervue must regroup for this local derby and that will not be an easy task given a number of players are unavailable. Tom King and Brian O’Mahony are both away with the Irish Colleges outfit in Russia while Conneely and Stephen Walsh are both serving suspensions. Alex Lee is doubtful with a virus.
While Mervue have been struggling of late, Salthill Devon, although bottom of the table, have been enjoying contrasting fortunes, claiming a 2-1 victory away to Finn Harps before the break and then securing a superb draw against Longford with a Derek O’Brien penalty in the fourth minute of stoppage time.
For this one, Brian Geraghty is out through injury while James Keane (work commitments) and Alex Byrne (holidays) are also unavailable. In any event, coach John Brennan will be anxious to maintain the side’s recent fine form, although he was not entirely satisfied with last weekend’s result.
“It was not a great result because we should have beaten them but, that said, I would have taken one-all in the 90th minute,” admitted Brennan. “The lads played well and those up at the match said you wouldn’t have thought it was the league leaders against the bottom of the table. Then again, sometimes players raise their game for fixtures like that. I was happy with the way the lads played.
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.