Four defeats in their last five league games, coupled with the improvement in form of Derry, Limerick and now Sligo, who beat Drogheda 4-0 on Friday, means that both sides are now just three points above the relegation play-off spot and well and truly involved in a dogfight to stay in the Premier Division.
Galway United have not won a league game since the 11th of July when they beat Limerick 4-2 at Markets Field. Since then, Galway have lost four while Limerick, who had five points on the table after that game, now have fifteen, having won three, drawn one and lost one in their last five matches.
Galway lost 3-0 to Bohemians on Friday night, meaning they have conceded seven goals without reply in their last two games. To make matters worse, four players who featured in that game are now unavailable through suspension and injury.
Speaking to galwayunitedfc.ie about the number of players missing, manager Tommy Dunne said:
“We’re literally down to the bare bones at the moment. At present, we’re missing 9 first team players through injury or suspension, it’s just too much and we’ve struggled in recent games because of that. Our squad is too small and missing 2 or 3 players would hurt us, never mind 9.
“Against Bohemians we picked up another suspension and two of our players were sent to hospital, so we’re not having a good time of it. We can’t feel sorry for ourselves though, the senior players in our squad will have to step up and be counted to pull our more inexperienced players through these difficult games.”
Colm Horgan and Enda Curran are just two of the nine first team players who will be unavailable for Galway, both through suspension. Horgan picked up his fifth yellow card of the season against Bohemians on Friday night while Curran, who got the winner when Galway beat Drogheda at Eamonn Deacy Park in March, was sent off.
Mark Ludden and Stephen Walsh were both taken to the Mater Hospital following the game on Friday. Ludden suffered a concussion and was kept in hospital overnight while Walsh has a rib fracture. Centre half Kilian Cantwell also picked up a foot injury in the defeat on Friday and will also be unavailable.
However, that isn’t the end of the list of injuries for Galway. Conor Barry suffered a relapse to a thigh injury in training on Sunday and now won’t be fit enough to play. In addition to this, Padraic Cunningham (knee), Ryan Connolly (ankle) and Andy O’Connell (foot) all still remain on the sideline. Cunningham will undergo surgery next week while Connolly isn’t likely to return until the end of the month. O’Connell, on the other hand, should return to full training on Monday week.
Nine first team players missing out has meant that Dunne has had to call up seven under-19 players – Aran McConnell, Antaine O’Laoi, Maurice Nugent, Kevin Horgan, Moise Assogba, Ian Collins and Conor Melody.
Speaking about the game itself, Dunne called on Galway supporters to come out and encourage their side for what he says will be another dogfight of a game:
“Important games are coming thick and fast and they don’t come much bigger than Drogheda United at home, who are also level on points with us in the league table. Ideally, you’d like to be in a position to play your strongest team against Drogheda and have a right go but the likelihood is, we’ll be fielding some U19 players.
“Our supporters will be needed against Drogheda United because unquestionably, Monday’s game will be another dogfight and the players will need to be cajoled and encouraged throughout the game.”
As for the visitors, Johnny McDonnell’s men are without a win since beating Bohemians almost two months ago. Drogheda have picked up just one point in their last six games, from a draw away to Longford Town.
The Boynesiders suffered their heaviest defeat of the season on Friday night, in a 4-0 defeat to Sligo Rovers, who play Derry City on Monday night, in what will be another huge fixture in the battle for survival.
Victory over Sligo would have seen Drogheda go nine points clear of the relegation play-off spot but the Drogs now find themselves just three points clear, meaning defeat in Galway and a Sligo win against Derry, will see them slip to 11th in the league.
In team news, Drogheda will again be without the injured James Daly who continues to recover from a broken leg picked up in training a number of weeks ago. Second choice goalkeeper Dylan Connolly also remains unavailable as he recovers from a broken wrist.
Left-back Mark O’Brien may be a doubt having limped off injured on his debut in the 4-0 defeat to Sligo on Friday. Robert Bayly will miss the trip to Galway, through suspension, having been controversially sent off against Sligo.
In more positive news for the Boynesiders, young centre-back Lloyd Buckley looks set to be available for selection again after recovering from illness.
Pundit Arena Prediction
Galway United 0-1 Drogheda United
Injured: Stephen Walsh (rib fracture), Marc Ludden (concussion), Kilian Cantwell (foot), Conor Barry (thigh), Ryan Connolly (ankle), Andy O’Connell (foot), Padraic Cunningham (knee).
Suspended: Colm Horgan (5 yellows), Enda Curran (sent off vs Bohs).
Injured: James Daly (broken leg), Dylan Connolly (broken wrist).
Doubtful: Mark O’Brien.
Suspended: Robert Bayly (sent off vs Sligo).
Last Two Meetings
League, 22 May 2015: Drogheda United 2-0 Galway United.
League, 20 March 2015: Galway United 1-0 Drogheda United.
Galway United 21/20, Draw 13/5, Drogheda United 12/5.
Gerard Grimes, Pundit Arena