United must maintain focus in return to league action

Galway United men were rewarded with a second-round Sports Direct FAI Cup draw away to UCD as a reward for a comfortable 4-1 first-round victory over Bangor Celtic on Saturday.

They survived an early scare when Adam Maher stunned the home crowd to put his side 1-0 up after 2 minutes. Otherwise, the win was routine.

Strikers Wassim Auoachria and Stephen Walsh (2 ) scored welcome goals to wrest the advantage as John Caulfield’s men enjoyed a 3-1 half-time lead. Walsh’s second was the critical goal when Ronan Manning showed good trickery on the left and the ball spilled to Walsh who did the needful. Killian Brouder powered home a header soon after the turnaround to put the tie beyond any doubt.

It enabled John Caulfield to give game time to Darren Clarke, David Tarmey, and Rob Manley, and hand a competitive debut to highly-touted striker Brian Cunningham, younger brother of Pádraic.

The routine victory hopefully will provide ideal preparation for Bray Wanderers' visit to Eamonn Deacy Park tomorrow night. They will bring plenty of motivation to Terryland as they are without a win in their last three league games and have a fight on their hands to maintain their play-off status, currently sitting fifth in the table.

United will be keen to press home their advantage at the top of the table. Their full focus will undoubtedly be on Bray, a team that held them to a 1-1 draw on their last visit to the Carlisle Grounds.

Supporters, however, might be forgiven for considering the next three fixtures as a package. After entertaining Bray, United are away to Finn Harps and at home to Treaty United before the critical trip to Waterford on August 11. The best-case scenario is that United can maintain the buffer they have and hope to land a knockout blow against their challengers in their backyard in a fortnight.

The more optimistic would hope favourable results in those four games might allow for a strong tilt at the cup, with the second round scheduled for the weekend of August 18. With Shamrock Rovers, Sligo Rovers, Shelbourne already eliminated, and Derry City drawn to face St Patrick’s Athletic, a pathway for a cup run is evident.

However, keen observers of United will understand that the themes of cup, title or promotion, are unlikely to have been on the agenda in United training this week. Bray though will have been mentioned plenty.

 

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