BIG GAME Galway United’s Gary Boylan.
WITH Shamrock Rovers crowned SSE Airtricity League Champions and Shelbourne confirmed as First Division winners, the focus this week is on the play-offs where Galway United face Bray Wanderers and UCD are up against Treaty United.
Both matches are over two legs; the first of them tomorrow (Wednesday, November 3) and the second next Sunday. The winners of these play each other, and the winner of that game plays the second-from-bottom side in the Premier, to decide who plays where next season.
“It wasn’t long coming round,” Galway United midfielder Gary Boylan told The Mayo News. “We’re preparing for it now. Bray are a decent side and I know they finished fifth, but this is a different story. The play-offs can go either way; you can’t go by the league table. We’d be confident enough though – but Bray are no pushovers.”
The Belmullet man’s contract expires at the end of the year and says he’d like to stay with United.
“We’ll see what happens in the play-offs,” he said. “Especially with John (Caulfield, the Galway manager,) committing for the next two years. He brought me in at the start of the year. I took last year out playing GAA and I played under John at Cork before.”
Galway were favourites for promotion at the start of the season, but after seeing the opening fixture between the two sides six months ago, I felt Shelbourne were a stronger side and would be hard to beat. This proved to be the case and Shels led the table from the start. Galway gradually crept up the table, often getting points in second-half stoppage time, and finished the season in second place.
“We started off slow, but we took off after the mid-season break and finished off very strong. “We’re hoping to continue that good form into the play-offs,” Gary explained.
Galway also have Ruairi Keating in their squad, and the ex-Torquay United man, has had an impressive season. Padraic Cunningham from Headford and Annaghdown’s Alex Murphy are also involved.
UCD face tough opposition in Treaty United in the other play-off. The students will be ably assisted by two Mayo men, in Harvey O’Brien from Claremorris and Westport’s Paul Doyle.
“At this stage of the season it’s about getting a result,” Doyle told The Mayo News. “I don’t expect it to be pretty, especially with so much at stake and with the pitches getting heavy with the rain. We’re taking it one game at a time. Treaty are a tough outfit and we have to get past them so that is our main concern.”
The play-offs will be Paul’s last involvement with UCD; he has his degree finished and is looking for a new club. He is a tenacious midfielder with good distribution and a high level of fitness. Given his performances the past four years, he’ll be much sought after.
Harvey O’Brien turned 21 last Sunday and put his celebrations on hold until after the play-offs.
“We’re looking forward to it,” he told The Mayo News. “We know we’re a match for them, we beat them twice this season and we’re feeling confident. We’ve been playing well recently and even with a weakened side last week we put it up to Shelbourne. We know it will be a tough test down there with a huge crowd and we’re hoping to get a decent result to bring back to the UCD Bowl for Sunday.”
Whatever team gets through the First Davison play-offs will then face the ninth-placed team in the Premier Division. That berth is currently held by Finn Harps but with four games remaining, with a single point separating the Donegal side from eighth-placed Waterford. Dundalk and Drogheda just above that, look safe.