There’s no rivalry like a Connacht rivalry. This Saturday at 7:45 the Showgrouds will host a team that has not won there in the last 18 league visits. Galway United’s last win at the Showgrounds dates back to 16/3/1996 when they then triumphed 2-0, with Galway United legend Mark Herrick and Ex-Galway United Manager John “Jumbo” Brennan slicing and dicing the Sligo Rovers defence on that outing.
But since then Sligo have put Galway to the sword time and time again. In 2011 Sligo beat Galway United 7-1 at the Showgrounds and that same year they went and bet them 8-0 in their own backyard, Eamonn Deacy Park. No doubt 2011 was a bad year for the Tribesmen with major problems off the pitch which resulted in the liquidation of the club. But since then things have changed and the future is no doubt bright for Tommy Dunne and his squad. Galway United find themselves in a mid-table position, 6 points from their rivals. While Sligo linger just off the foot of the table ahead of Limerick FC by 7 points.
Joseph Ndo and Gavin Dykes are now at the reigns temporarily as the Sligo Rovers board and Sligo chairman Joe Burns search for a replacement for Owen Heary who was confirmed had stepped down Friday last the 26th of June after a poor run of results. Ndo and Dykes will look to improve on the 1-0 loss away from home against Bray Wanderers Saturday last with a win against their fiercest rivals.
However the task will not be made easy for the new men at the helm, they will come up against a Galway strikeforce that have netted goals for fun thus far this season, against a defence that is leaky at times and susceptible to pace and quick attacking breaks, both attributes which describe the United attack best. A difficult task to say the least, made even more difficult with the loss of 5 first team players to injury and Steven Beattie doubtful with rumours suggesting he is set to join Cork City. Ex-Galway United winger John Russell and Galway Native Stephen Folan the most notable of those absentees.
Things go from bad to worse, there has now be question marks over the featuring of another ex-Galway United player (This is when the conspiracy theorists have a fit) Alan Keane due to an off the field phone scandal involving his teammate Gary Boylan. Alan released this statement yesterday :
“The next few weeks are vital in the club’s history and like all my team mates and the fans I would like to be part of it.
Unfortunately there has been an incident on my behalf and I’m sincerely sorry for the unwanted headlines which let my team mates, staff and club down.
Hoping that I get a chance to redeem myself and I apologise for any hurt it may have caused during this difficult time where unity is key.
I feel that Saturday could be a new start for all of us.
We are Sligo Rovers. Keano.”
Whether Alan or Gary feature tonight remains unanswered but with pride and 3 points on the line there is no doubt in any “Bit o’ Red” fans mind that the past is the past and for the best of the club the incident is best left behind and for the benefit of the club they should move on. Tommy Dunne’s men will certainly come into this game confident even after suffering a 1-0 loss at home to Shamrock Rovers Friday last. Galway come into the game without pacey winger Jason Molloy and towering defender Andy Ó Connell, while Sam Oji is doubtful due to a niggling hamstring injury sustained in the Shamrock Rovers clash. With Connor Gleeson leaving Galway in the off season, featuring on the Athlone Town bench last night. It looks as if Connor Winn will again start in goal for the tribesmen. Antoine Ó Laoi and David Ó Leary return for the tribesmen will prove a boost.
The young tribesmen will be coming into the encounter with one thing on their mind and that no doubt will be revenge for previous humiliating results against their rivals. Dunne had this to say in a statement about the game.
“We had a disappointing result against Shamrock Rovers last week but we’ve dusted ourselves down and we’re moving on quickly to Sligo Rovers now,” Dunne admitted.
“We’re heading up to Sligo and we know how much they’ll be looking to get a result against us, they’ve got a strong squad of players so we’re under no illusions, it will be a battle, but we’re looking forward to going to Sligo, we’re hungry to do well and it’s a great place to play.”
United have found it difficult at the Showgrounds over the years and Dunne has urged his players to forget about past clashes against the Bit O Red.
“You have to forget about the previous 34 visits, there’s no point dwelling on the past, that’s history. We’ve got to look forward now, this is a new group of players and we believe if we can play to our potential, we’ve got a chance of winning in Sligo.
“We’re not too worried about what’s going on in Sligo or what Sligo are doing, all we’re interested in is getting ourselves right to play against them, it’s simple and straight forward. We’re looking forward to the match and we’re ready to play.
The Bit O’ Red are on the ropes and the Tribesmen are coming in with an uppercut to the Jaw, will the Reds shimey to the left a little and dodge a knockout and counter attack with a knockout of their own or will they be kissing the mat after 90 minutes.
Find out tonight at 7:45
Injured: Stephen Folan (Hamstring), John Russell (Hip), Kevin Devaney (Ankle), Jeff Henderson (Foot), Ruari Keating (Hamstring)
Doubtful: Steven Beattie (Fitness)
Injured: Jason Molloy (Back) Andy Ó Connell (Foot)
Doubtful: Sam Oji (Hamstering)
Referee: Anthony Buttimer
Assistant 1: Dermot Broughton
Assistant 2: Ken Hennessey
Fourth Official: Robert Hennessey
P.J Ó Cualáin.