EA Sports Cup finalists Galway United face-off against relegation-threatened Derry City at Eamonn Deacy Park this Friday evening.
Peter Hutton will be looking to exploit the tiredness of the Galway United players, having been brought to extra time by Dundalk on Monday evening in the EA Sports Cup semi-final. The Derry manager was in attendance at the match on Monday and will be relatively confident when returning to Eamonn Deacy Park this Friday on getting a result against a tired and injury-ridden Galway squad.
Tommy Dunne’s men will be riding on the crest of a wave, however, after securing the team’s first cup final appearance in 18 years, which was achieved through a well-taken penalty by Colm Horgan on Monday evening.
However, Emmet Hartigan, Galway’s physio and Adrian Craddock, United’s fitness coach will have been working overtime as they try to get the dressing room back in top shape heading into Friday evening’s game.
With Pádraig Cunningham’s season almost certainly over as he gets ready to go under the knife due to a cartilage problem in his knee, while Enda Curran will undergo a late fitness test before the game and Connor Winn is now suspended, it means the ecstasy of Monday is suddenly greeted by agony in the west.
The Tribesmen boss told galwayunitedfc.ie that,
“We’ll have played three labour intensive games in seven days after we face Derry City, it’s tough going for the players, especially because, due to our lengthy injury list, we can’t rotate the squad,” said Dunne.
“At this time of the year, you’re hoping that you can get into a rhythm where you’ve got a game each week and then prepare for it but we’re pleased to book our place in the final, now we have to re-focus.”
Derry City will be looking to gain revenge after Galway United drilled two past them in their last meeting in the league at the Brandywell; Pádraig Cunningham and Jake Keegan finding the net on that occasion.
But United’s form in the league has been hot and cold of late, with the Tribesmen only managing four points of a possible eighteen in their last six outings, approaching the end of the season.
Galway are still also in danger of being dragged into a relegation battle with only six points separating themselves from Sligo Rovers who are currently situated in the relegation play-off position.
With a depleted-looking squad, due to injuries, there are sure to be a few sleepless nights for Dunne ahead, with many Galway United supporters questioning his refusal to strengthen the squad in the transfer window, a transfer window which has seen five players being released.
Goalkeeper Connor Gleeson (Athlone Town), defender Kevin Garcia (VSK Fotbolls), midfielders Aaron McDonagh (unassigned) and Antaine O’Laoi (unassigned) as well as recently-signed striker Colm O’Donovan, who returned to Athenry F.C, have all been deemed surplus to requirements at Eamonn Deacy Park.
“We have to maintain the gap between ourselves and the play-off spot, there’s a lot of big games coming up, we’ve got Derry City at home, Sligo at home, Longford at home.
“We need to try and at least get the same number of points as we did in the last phase, if not more,” said Dunne.
Meanwhile, City manager Peter Hutton has been very active during the mid-season transfer window, strengthening his squad with six new additions, one of them consisting of a new assistant manager in Paul Hegarty.
Mark Quigley and Ciaran O’Connor joined the northerners to help aid in their lack of goals, Connor McCormack and Aaron McEneff joined to beef up the Derry midfield while Rob Cornwall was signed on loan from Shamrock Rovers to help fill the gap left by the departure of Shane McEleney.
Derry City are in similar form as their Galway counterparts, only sealing four points from a possible eighteen in their most recent outings in the league and are only three points ahead of Sligo Rovers in that dreaded relegation play-off zone.
Hutton told the BBC that,
“If we do not get anything out of our trip to Galway it will take away from last week’s win.”
This could be the most important game of the season for each side with Galway United hoping to distance themselves slightly from the bottom four and to put a few points between themselves and Drogheda who lay in ninth, level on points with the Tribesmen.
While Derry and Peter Hutton will hope to continue the momentum from the game against Longford Town last Friday, who the thumped 3-0 at the Brandywell, with Mark Timlin finding the net twice.
“That result gave us a lift and it’s all about getting momentum now,” Hutton said following their 3-0 triumph.
Eamonn Deacy Park is most definitely the place to be this weekend as two of the league’s best supported teams try to claim the points as they battle to secure their place in next season’s League of Ireland Premier Division.
Injured: Cillian Morrison (Virus)
Injured: Andy O’Connel (Foot), Pádraig Cunningham (Knee Cartilage), Marc Ludden (Ankle), Connor Barry (Thigh), Ryan Connoly (Ankle)
Doubtful: Enda Curran (Fitness)
Suspended: Connor Winn
Referee: Anthony Buttimer
P.J Ó Cualáin, Pundit Arena