Sunday 19 May 2019

'We need fans behind us for crunch home games'

Marcus Cavaroli

Paul Skinner is pleading with soccer fans in Drogheda to come out in force and ensure a rocking atmosphere at United Park for the upcoming crunch home games - starting with Galway United this Friday.

The goalkeeper took little satisfaction from a clean sheet in Wexford last week as his team stumbled to a scoreless draw, the club's first since last October, but he insisted that the Boynesiders are still on course to achieve their stated ambition - a place in the end-of-season play-offs.

Attendances at United Park have been disappointing so far in the campaign, but with Galway and fellow promotion rivals Longford and UCD providing the opposition in the remaining home league matches and Shamrock Rovers visiting in an upcoming FAI Cup, Skinner hopes the fans will turn out in big numbers and help make the old ground a fortress.

'We've five big games now and we need the media, the fans and everyone behind us,' he said.

'We're hoping that from now until the end of the season everyone in the town really drives together behind us and we can now push and make sure we're in the play-offs.

'Galway have more resources than us and it's nearly a must-win for them, but we've been fantastic at home and for the next three league games we really hope that the community can get behind us - because United Park is unbelievable when it's rocking.

'I think the team deserve the fantastic support that is out there.

'I love United Park and I'll miss it when it's gone. Other teams don't like coming up there, but when it's full and it's rocking it's special, it really is, and the lads have spoken about it.

'I know there haven't been too many full houses this year, but for the last three games the lads really deserve a full house and a proper atmosphere and the fans will enjoy it because they're going to be really big games.'

Looking at the threat posed by pre-season title favourites Galway, who are six points adrift of Drogheda and currently just outside the play-off positions, Skinner responded: 'Friday will be a huge one for them, but we'll prepare properly and go into it like we have every other game.

'There's other teams in the league who are blitzed with good players and have spent a lot of money. This team isn't, it's different and there's a great bond between us and it's a great dressing room.

'Where this team has done well for the whole season is that it's stayed together and bounced back. Its best attribute is bouncing back and come Monday at training we'll be fine.'

The dropped points in Wexford all but handed the First Division title to UCD, but while accepting that the result was a big setback to their chances of finishing top of the pile, Skinner wasn't too downhearted.

'We never mentioned winning the league. Other teams certainly did - Longford did after beating UCD and now they're miles off it - and you put your hand out to be slapped.

'This squad never put that as a target. Don't get me wrong, at five points off with six games to play we were taking it each game as it comes and tonight was a hard one to take.

'Obviously it's disappointing. They had 10 men for half an hour and I'd say if we were still playing for another 24 hours we probably wouldn't score.

'It was one of those nights, but you've just got to just take it on the chin and move on, as heartbreaking as it is.

'If you'd been offered the play-offs at the start of the season, you would have taken it.'

Drogheda Independent