While the mainstream focus on sport in Galway this weekend will be on the Connacht Gaelic football final on Sunday, another vital fixture will take place in the city of the tribes less than 48 hours earlier.

A crowd of up to 5,000 is expected for the clash between the top two sides in the second tier of Irish senior football.

Galway United, resurgent under John Caulfield and set for billionaire ownership under the Comer group, host Cork City.

The Rebels have exceeded expectations under former Republic of Ireland international Colin Healy and only last week lost the grip on the automatic promotion position to this weekend's opposition.

There is no doubt these are the form teams in the division.

United have conceded just one goal in their last six matches and have recorded 12 wins from a possible 15, including seven on the bounce,

The first meeting of the sides saw Caulfield take victory against his former club in Turner's Cross on the opening night of the season in front of 4,894 fans.

However, Cork are showing their mettle and have not lost since that first game defeat.

Such are the standards being set by the Healy’s men, a late win overall and a home draw with Wexford has been described as a blip.

Galway took over at the top as a result of that draw, holding a two point lead ahead of the Eamonn Deacy Park clash.

John Caulfield was Colin Healy's manager at Cork City, with master now trying to stop apprentice following in his success at Turner's Cross

Speaking to the Galway Advertiser this week, Caulfield admitted it is satisfying for all involved to be involved in high-level matches, given it is a First Division fixture.

He said: "Cork are a massive club and Colin Healy is doing a good job down there. We know how difficult it will be. It’s going to be the halfway point in the season.

"We’re in a good place but we know what Cork will do.

"Cork have lots of exciting players, they’re a dangerous team. At the same time we’ll be at home in front of a packed house. Our performances have been very consistent. If we don’t get another strong performance we won’t get a result.

"It’s a very exciting season in the First Division. There’s big clubs like Waterford and Cork who have come down and made the First Division very exciting.

"They have a big following so it makes it competitive. Some people say it’s a two-horse race but personally I think it’s a three-horse race and Waterford are close. It’s only the half-way point. There’ll be 16 matches to go after Friday. It’s a long, long way to go.

"Why wouldn’t you look forward to a game like this, being at the top of the table and playing in front of a full house?"

Galway United defender Alex Murphy will join Newcastle United this summer

Just one team will be automatically promoted this campaign as is the format in the First Division. If Caulfield is correct, and Waterford enter the race for the automatic position, it will be hotly-contested and two of these big guns will be left in the unpredictable play-offs.

It makes these clash pivotal in the season, with a chance for Galway to open up a five-point advantage if they can do the business in front of their home fans.

Healy admits the stakes are high, even if it is only midway through the campaign.

"It's a massive game. They're a very good side who are going very well at the moment. We dropped points against Wexford but hopefully we can go up there and put on a good performance against a very good Galway side. The players are raring to go. It'll be massive crowd and players like to play in front of big crowds.

"The attacking options we have, they will cause any teams problems within the league. Galway will be looking at our attacking players and also know we're strong defensively.

"It's still early, we have to play them twice more. If we can keep our unbeaten run going, and improving as a team, hopefully we should be okay.

"We know it'll be difficult because John has put a good squad together. They're organised and they have some very experienced players within the squad. But we have a good squad as well so we go up there with confidence looking for three points"

Dylan McGlade could return for City in what would be a welcome boost as they look to return to the summit. Kick-off is 7.45pm at Eamonn Deacy Park.

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