THE BEST team in the country against one of the worst teams in Irish football history -- that's the scene at Tallaght Stadium tonight when Shamrock Rovers prepare to receive the Premier Division trophy.
Rovers go into the last day of the season knowing they could lose 10-0 to tonight's opponents and still collect the league title at the close of business, but given that the opposing side, Galway United, have played out just one draw and 28 defeats from their last 29 games, it's no wonder that some bookmakers are odds of 33/1 on an away win -- Boylesports confirmed today that this is the biggest price they've ever offered on a game in Ireland.
Galway's stats are appalling and they need a win away to Rovers to avoid finishing with the worst points tally since the Premier Division was brought in 25 years ago.
"It's been a really hard season and it does hurt to see the stats and where we are," says Galway winger Bobby Ryan, who was previously a league winner with Bohemians and Shelbourne.
"We're going into this game tonight just hoping that the players don't freeze and allow Rovers rack up a record scoreline. It could go two ways, the lads in our side could really raise their game and try to get something from the match, or they could just freeze at the size of the task and let Rovers do what they want.
"We know that Rovers could be off their game tonight if their players have been celebrating all week, but Rovers are so strong they could put out a completely new XI and still do a job on us.
"It all goes back to the budget we have, you get what you pay for in football. We had a decent enough side at the start of the season but we lost lads like Shaun Maher, Karl Moore and Brian Cash and we just didn't have the squad to cope," added Ryan.
"The only bright spot is that we can still avoid relegation if we win a play-off. But no one knows what sort of shape the club will be in next season and that's very sad as well," said the 32-year-old, who will consider his options -- including retirement -- at the end of the season.
LEAST POINTS IN A SEASON
ALL TIME: 2 (Bray Unknowns, 1935-36)
PREMIER DIVISION: 8 (UCD, 1985/86)
GALWAY CURRENT TALLY: 6
MOST GOALS CONCEDED IN A SEASON
ALL TIME: 99 (Bray Unknowns, 1935/36)
PREMIER: 85 (Monaghan United, 2001/02)
GALWAY CURRENT TALLY: 111
MOST LEAGUE DEFEATS IN A SEASON
ALL TIME: 26 (Kilkenny City, 2000/01)
GALWAY CURRENT TALLY: 31
RECORD LEAGUE LOSING STREAK
GALWAY, APRIL-SEPTEMBER: 22
PREVIOUS RECORD: 19 (Kilkenny City, 1994/95)