View From The Stand
A View From the Stand (Taken fom Finn Harps programme 29.03.13)
By Terry Flaherty
Who would have thought looking at the fixtures list in late February that we would be talking about a top of the table clash for this fixture after just three games of the new Airtricity League campaign. Well that's what's on offer tonight as both teams come into the game unbeaten with almost identical beginnings, an opening night draw followed by two good wins and seven points bagged.
It has been a very encouraging start to the campaign by Johnny Glynn's squad as they have built on that battling opening night away point in Athlone, a game they could have also won. A solid 2-1 win in the city derby over Salthill Devon followed and last week's impressive 4-0 demolition of a fancied Waterford Utd side who were talked up as possible First Division title winners before kick-off.
After the loss of both Pat Hoban and Etanda Nkololo, we wondered were the goals were going to come from and Tom King, appointed captain this season, has so far answered that question with four goals in as many games, while 16 year old Ryan Manning also opened his senior account with a goal in the city derby game. Ryan will miss tonight's game but he certainly looks every bit capable of reproducing his underage form, eight hat-tricks at U18 and U19 level this season, on the League of Ireland stage.
Our visitors tonight, Finn Harps, come into tonight's game in excellent form and they finally look to have a side that will challenge for honours this season having also put their financial off the field problems behind them. An opening night 1-1 away draw with Waterford Utd was followed up with two impressive wins. A 4-1 home mauling of Cobh Ramblers, which saw doubles for both young Sean McCarron and veteran Kevin McHugh, while First Division title favourites, Longford Town, were over turned courtesy of another McHugh strike last week at Finn Park.
Harps striker McHugh is a great example to any young player in the league and is one of only ten elite players to have scored over 150 goals in the national league, he is currently on 157 and has finished top goal scorer in the division on three occasions included last season.
Our very own Marc Ludden reaches a club milestone tonight when he will make his 100th Airtricity League appearance for the club, the first player to do so in our four seasons to date. Marc has been a wonderful servant to the club since joining as a twelve year old many seasons back from Corofin Utd. He won almost every title available as he made his way through the club's excellent underage structure. A player with a cultured left foot, who is equally at home at left back or on the left wing. He has scored three times in the LOI for the club, including a memorable cracker in a 2-1 derby win over Salthill Devon in Terryland Park back in 2010.
Our record at Fahy's Field against tonight's opponents is very good, they haven't recorded a win in five visits, as we have won four of the meetings so far, while last August league encounter finished all square at 1-1. Let's hope that record continues this evening and we can stay at the summit with another positive result.
A View From the Stand (Taken from match day programme v SD Galway 13.10.12)
By Terry Flaherty
The season comes to an end this evening as we host our City neighbours and "auld rivals" in the final derby game of the 2012 campaign. From that opening night's 1-0 defeat by Longford Town to last week's excellent 2-1 away win over Waterford Utd, the season has passed us by so quickly.
With nothing at stake tonight only the important bragging rights of course, following both sides wins last weekend, both camps will look to end the Airtricity First Division campaign on a high with a derby win. After a season of struggle for both squads, the final series of games has seen a vast improvement in form - SD Galway have won four of their last seven games, while we have registered three wins and two draws in the same period.
In meetings so far this season our visitors this evening hold the upper hand having won the two most recent league meetings, while we claimed victory in the FAI Cup meeting in May and the opening derby game of the season ended in a 2-2 stalemate.
Both club's over their three to four years in the league have nurtured and developed good young players who have gone on to play both at a higher standard and on the international stage, something neither club gains recognition for.
Following last week's release of the O'Connor report into League of Ireland football in Galway no one was surprised at the recommendations contain within, it a completely different matter in how you go about implementing them that will be the issue into the future.
Personally I cannot see a lot changing for the 2013 season as the FAI cannot now turn around to both Mervue and Salthill, having encouraged both club's to enter the League in the first instance, to now asking them to step aside and let a new Galway entity take on the mantle of representing the city and county in senior soccer. If only it was that easy!
Both clubs were admitted to the league through the licencing process with glowing praise from the hierarchy on how well our structures and all aspects of our clubs were run. Is the licensing process now going to be abandoned to allow a new club with no structures/facilities etc to take over? It will be interesting to see now the "Implementation Group" decide to go about solving the issue and bring everybody together under the one umbrella for the 2014 season, if at all!
Meanwhile both clubs will continue to fly the League of Ireland flag for Galway and at national, provincial and local level at all other age groups and to the highest standards as both accept nothing less, while also improving facilities for members from under six to senior, because that's what developing and improving the game is all about, not just a senior team.
To be playing at the highest level available is were both clubs have earned the right to be and deservedly so, long may the healthy rivalry that exists between both club's continue and the production line of young exciting players progress through the extensive underage structures and onto senior soccer in both clubs.
VIEW FROM THE STAND
(Taken from match day programme v Wexford Youths 28.09.12)
By Terry Flaherty
With only two more league games remaining after tonight's encounter with Wexford Youths, how quickly the season has passed us by as we come to the end of our fourth Airtricity League campaign. It has been another tough season in senior football for the club but one in which the club has hopefully learned a lot both on and off the field.
The players must be given credit for the performance they put in last Friday night away to Athlone Town, as just a week after the bitterly disappointing display in the quarter final of the FAI Cup in Derry, they responded well to Johnny's call to put that game behind them.
The second half display in particular saw some of the best passing and attacking play of the season to date and if we had taken at least half the chances that were created, the score line could easily have been doubled. But more importantly the three points were secured and with our city rivals, SD Galway, losing narrowly to Limerick we have now opened up a five point gap once again so another positive result tonight could possible ensure we secure a seventh place finish.
There have been some good performances throughout the season but Pat Hoban has to be singled out as he became the first Mervue Utd player to hit double figures in our four seasons in the league when he scored that cracking consolation goal in the Brandywell to record his tenth of the season. He has of course added two more since in last week's 3-0 win in Athlone and has also played in every game this season bar one (28 in total), only missing the away game with Finn Harps due to suspension in July.
Our visitors tonight have also recently registered a 3-0 away win over Athlone and come into tonight's game on the back of a 2-2 draw with an inform Finn Harps, who we ironically also drew 1-1 with in our last home game, which seems a long time ago now, on the last day of August.
In our meetings this season we do hold a slight upper hand having won the two most recent encounters, while Shane Keegan's side won the opening fixture at the end of March. The last meeting in July ended with a 2-1 away victory courtesy of strikes from Jason Molloy and Pat Hoban with Tom Elmes late penalty Wexford's reply. Goals from Jason Molloy and two from Alan Murphy handed the home team a 3-0 win here at Fahy's Field in mid-May.
Interestingly though honours are even between the sides in our twelve league meetings to date, the record reads five wins each and two scoreless draws, both back in our first season in 2009. There have also been some high scoring games between the sides with 3-2, 5-2 and 5-3 results recorded in recent seasons.
Of course the two club's met in the Airtricity Under 19 league at Fahy's Field last weekend and we came out on top in that encounter after an assured first half performance by Justin Neary and Colin Nolan's young side.
Tonight's game promises to be a good game of football as both sides like to get the ball down and play so let's hope we deliver a football performance to match last week's display and it's the claret and sky blue colours celebrating another three points come half nine.
Friday 31st August 2012, Fahy's Field
VIEW FROM THE STAND (Taken from match day programme)By JASON BYRNE
Remarkably Finn Harps haven't lost a game in the league since June, and after defeating Mervue in a 3-2 thriller at Finn Park when July got underway, the blues have since held Limerick to a draw and won at Longford against all the odds.
It took time, but Peter Hutton has finally instilled belief into a team that has lacked it in recent years. Games between tonight's teams rarely disappoint, with the last meeting here providing a pleasing night for the hosts as they cruised to a 3-0 win.
Since then, not all has gone according to Johnny Glynn's plans. Two defeats against SD Galway have come since as well as a home defeat to Longford when the promotion chasers were gifted the win.
The cup clash with Waterford has been postponed twice due to heavy rain in the sunny southeast of all places, with the prize for the winners a trip to the Brandywell to face Derry City.
The failure to fulfil the cup match must have hampered Mervue's preparations for tonight's game but perhaps at the same time a rest for some of the players was needed.
The break means that hopefully Martin Conneely, Alan Murphy, Tom King and Noel Varley will be closer to full fitness. The end of the season won't be long creeping in and its essential Mervue pick up points.
SD Galway are in good form of late and will be revitalised with two wins at Terryland against Mervue and Athlone just before the cup break.
Not only does one club finishing above the other earn bragging rights, finishing bottom is what it is and who knows what the FAI will provide in terms of an answer as to how to solve the current soccer situation in Galway.
Tonight will undoubtedly provide goals with a whopping total of fifteen scored in the three previous meetings between the side this season -with Finn Harps winning 4-3 and 3-2 at Finn Park and Mervue winning 3-0 here at Fahy's Field.
Ger Hanley will greatly aid Glynn's goalkeeping options if he manages to recover from injury before the season is out and Cian McBrien along with Dan Cunningham provide stern League of Ireland experience.
If Mervue are to lift things, tonight is crucial. Its going to be far from easy against a side flying high - but nonetheless a side which has a poor record on this side of Galway city.
Long that long ago, I can remember coming to Terryland to see Harps play Galway United to either try and wriggle out of the first division or desperately battling it out to stay in the premier in front of thousands.
Changed times, but Harps still exist and maybe one day they will be back where they belong. Every bit as rich in history, Mervue need a result tonight more than ever to gain some momentum at what is a pivotal part of the season.