United carry momentum into clash with champions

Wassim Aouachria has aided Galway United on their good run of form since his return from injury. Shamrock Rovers will provide a stern test for John Caulfield's side this weekend.

Wassim Aouachria has aided Galway United on their good run of form since his return from injury. Shamrock Rovers will provide a stern test for John Caulfield's side this weekend.

After a productive weekend, Galway United should travel to Tallaght tomorrow night with confidence, as they seek to end a barren streak against last year’s Premier Division winners.

The club’s 21 consecutive defeats against Shamrock Rovers is remarkable. However they will feel that their collection of four points against Shelbourne and Sligo Rovers last weekend is a more relevant statistic.

United recorded a famous victory over league leaders Shelbourne last Friday in Eamonn Deacy Park. On Monday, they followed that up with another dogged display against Sligo Rovers in a game that ended 0-0.

It was a third clean sheet on the bounce for a United team that had four changes from Friday to Monday. Jeannot Esua, Maurice Nugent, Wassim Aouachria and Karl O’Sullivan were all notable inclusions in Sligo for different reasons.

Esua has been rotating at right-back, while Conor O’Keeffe turned in arguably his best performance in a United shirt in the Showgrounds. Nugent filled in capably for the suspended Conor McCormack at the base of midfield, a notable achievement given the performances and presence of the captain.

Aouachria enjoyed his first start of an injury interrupted campaign up front, partnering Stephen Walsh in the first half. The versatile O’ Sullivan returned after missing a rare start against Shels and was a constant threat against his former side.

He was involved in the game’s pivotal moment when teammates Ed McGinty and JR Wilson collided at the edge of the Sligo box. David Hurley fed the ball to O’ Sullivan who curled it over the stranded ‘keeper into the net. Just as the shot was unleashed, referee Eoghan O’ Shea whistled to stop game for an apparent head injury for the defender.

It was the timing of the call that irked the travelling contingent as the game had initially been allowed to develop. It was inevitably crucial, as 10 of United’s 11 league games have been decided by the odd goal, if at all.

Ollie Horgan voiced their frustration after the game. “I’m still trying to get my head around the disallowed goal. I’ve asked the officials. They’ve given their interpretation. To be fair to Eoghan O’ Shea, I’ll give him huge kudos for explaining it to me. But I would differ from his interpretation, having looked at it on the video”.

Nonetheless, the most pleasing aspect for United will be that they backed up a stirring performance against Shels with a defiant display in Sligo. Earlier in the season, they could not muster the same levels achieved away in Derry on a Friday against Bohemians on the following Monday.

Consistency will be key in a congested period. Thus far, United have been consistent in the fight they have carried in every contest. It has taken them to fifth in the table. However, there are only two points separating fifth and eighth.

The aura of invincibility has diminished somewhat around tomorrow’s opponents. Although they have overcome a sluggish start and won five of their last seven since the win in Terryland, they also came unstuck against a struggling St Pat’s side, and drew on Monday against Shels.

There have been many milestones already this season such as wins in Oriel Park and the Brandywell. A rare result against the standard bearers in the country would be another welcome boost for John Caulfield’s men.


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