P.J Ó Cualáin takes a look back at the leaner times Galway United have had to endure in the last number of years. However, the club’s future now looks much brighter as Galway United prepare for life in the top tier once more.
Like many a Galwegian, four years starved of Premier Division football was a lot to take. As a firm supporter of Galway United and a regular follower of football here and across the pond, this writer finds it unbelievable, as im sure many others, the amount of talent that has come out of Galway United, Salthill Devon and Mervue United.
Yet the Tribesmen have struggled to go on and replicate the form of the mid-1980s. Lets not forget that United did battle with one of the best Dutch sides of that time, FC Groningen. A team which consisted of 17-capped Paul McGee and Dennis Bonner, the brother of the great goalkeeper Packie Bonner.
They did battle on Páirc an Cathanaigh ar an gCeathrú Rua in a very memorable and proud occasion for the club and its supporters, Groningen went on to win the tie 8-2 on aggregate but never the less we were proud and stood tall.
That same year, Galway United went on to beat Dundalk 2-0 to clinch the League Cup and their first ever piece of silverware as a club. Since then, there has been many ups and down but no doubht due to poor management of finances in the past, like many clubs in Ireland, things hit an all time low in 2011 when the club went into liquidation.
Many a great footballer has graced the soft velvet green soil at Eamonn Deacy Park and donned the famous maroon jersey.
Séamus Connelly (Accrington Stanley), Jay O’Shea (Chesterfield), Ryan Manning (Q.P.R), Gary Deegan (Southend United), David Forde (Millwall) and many other youngsters have since gone on to other teams within the League of Ireland and claimed silverware. Sometimes you wonder, what went wrong?
Nevertheless the Tribesmen are back in the top tier of the League of Ireland, and by the looks of it they’re there to stay.
There is no doubt now, with the facilities available to Tommy Dunne that he will have a regular crop of youngsters striving to be the next Ryan Manning, Derek Ó Brien or Séamus Connelly at his disposal.
This is also great news finance-wise as it means the club can now feed from its own youth structures without the need to spend big or fork out lavish wages to lure players in. One can be sure this is the approach the board and Tommy Dunne will be taking over the next – hopefully successful – few years.
The coming together of GUST, Salthill Devon and Mervue United was, and has been a great success to date and to gain promotion within a year is a great achievement for any club. This writer is sure there will be many more memorable nights in Eamonn Deacy Park for all of Galway United’s faithful, which includes of course ár Uachtaráin Micheál D Ó Higgín.
Killian Cantwell, formerly of Wexford Youths and David O’Leary, most recently of Cork City have been the only acquisitions to date with the majority of the 2014 squad signing on for the 2015 season.
Even in this chilly weather we have at the moment, the thought of the Bit O’ Red and the Tribesmen doing battle again at the top tier of Irish football makes this writer all warm inside.
P.J Ó Cualáin, Pundit Arena