United continue to carve promotion bid as busy weekend looms

When it comes time to build Stephen Walsh’s statue on the Dyke Road, the pose might well be based on the sensational bicycle kick he scored last Friday in Eamonn Deacy Park.

Suspended in mid-air, striking sweetly over his shoulder the moment symbolised the tenacity and talent of the revered Galway man.

As the clock ticked down in the first half, an eighth first-half corner was swung in. The partial clearance came as far as Conor McCormack who cushioned a header into Walsh’s path. He finished with aplomb.

There was plenty of significance in the strike. United had toiled for much of the first half, but they emerged after the break inspired, and produced a dominant second-half performance to romp home to a 3-0 win over Bray Wanderers. In the process, they moved 18 points clear of Waterford. This is surely an unassailable lead despite 12 games still remaining.

In that second half, Ronan Manning, David Hurley and Walsh were relentless. Manning dazzled on the right, Hurley was everywhere, and Walsh menaced up front.

Yet, there was a slice of fortune to the second. Manning and Walsh had combined to tee up Ed McCarthy. His shot was half-blocked and the ball trickled through to Walsh who tapped home. He seemed to be in an offside position, but the goal stood.

It was Manning and Walsh who were to the fore also for the third that sealed the three points. After neat interplay, Manning found David Hurley, who smashed home for a deserved goal that capped a wonderful individual and team performance in the second.

United will hope to carry this form into a busy bank holiday weekend. There are two games to negotiate, but given their imperious form, they will enter both games as hot favourites.

The statistics of the season are staggering. They have only been beaten once; a freak reversal to lowly Longford Town on the May Bank Holiday Monday. They have conceded just nine goals, nearly one in every three games.

Tomorrow, John Caulfield’s side makes the long trip north to Ballybofey to take on Finn Harps. Finn Park is rarely an accommodating venue, and Harps have finally started to show some form after struggling early in the campaign. They have won three in a row in all competitions, and will provide a sterner test than they did when going down 6-0 in Terryland in June.

On Monday, United entertain Treaty United. After surpassing expectations last season, reaching the FAI Cup semi-final, the Limerick side has gone back this season. They lie in eighth place, and, after losing Alec Byrne and Anthony O’Donnell earlier in the window, they have bolstered their ranks with the arrival of Adam Lennon and Dean O’Shea to provide much-needed experience and quality.

The focus at United is to remain on their own processes and performances. The positivity is sky-high and the introduction of the Avenir Sports All-Island Champion Women’s Team at half-time was another fillip on Friday. If this is another positive weekend, the promotion party can start to be planned.

•Galway United Friends Co-op is running a bus to Friday's first division match against Finn Harps in Ballybofey, departing The Connacht Hotel, Galway at 3pm and picking up along the route via Claregalway. To book a seat contact Stephen Connolly (085 ) 2206645.


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