By Darren Casserly
The 2019 season will be a new beginning in many aspects for the tribesmen. Having announced Alan Murphy as full–time manager, there has been a complete makeover of the squad. Murphy has let a lot of experienced players go such as Ryan Connolly, Robbie Williams and Danny Furlong who were all guilty of underperforming for large parts of last season.
Unfortunately, United also lost some of their top performers from last year, like keeper Tadhg Ryan and winger Carlton Ubaezuonu who were two bright sparks in an otherwise underwhelming season.
Recruitment for Galway has been different from the past with Murphy launching “Project DNA” which focuses on bringing in local players and promoting youth team players who have a genuine connection to the club, and see it as more than just a stepping-stone. This has resulted in promoting exciting young players like Colin Kelly and Donal Higgins, who saw some game time towards the end of last season. Whilst both representing the Irish Schoolboys they played a pivotal part in United’s 17’s team last year with Kelly scoring 30 goals in league and cup.
Along with this, Murphy has added a strong local core with fan favourite Vinny Faherty returning for his forth spell with the club as well as ex–tribesman Iarfhlaith Davoren in a player/coach role that brings more leadership and experience to a young squad.
Murphy has also focused on untapped junior football talent, holding open trials and from this he has recruited several players such as Joe Collins and Cian Murphy. These players are an unknown quantity and it will be interesting to see if they will be able to adapt to the first division and contribute to United.
One question that remains over the club is will they be able to find some consistency that they desperately lacked last season. This is especially important with an even younger squad that is not rated as highly as the previous one. Add in the fact that there is a young manager who is unproven at this level and the season is very hard to predict for the tribesmen.
If Murphy can get the team playing his brand of football and have key players such as talisman Conor Barry playing to their full potential, this could be a promising season for the young squad. However, inconsistent form is evident from a 0-0 draw with Shamrock Rovers, to only beating the Galway Junior side 3-2 and losing 3-0 to local rivals Sligo Rovers. These results suggest there could be a fear of repeat performances from last season.
The competition in the First Division will be fierce again this year with Shelbourne and Drogheda strengthening greatly, and with sides like Limerick and Bray retaining most of their Premier division experience and talent. Factoring in an improving Longford side and an Athlone Town who have put match fixing players and disgraceful club running from years past behind them. Even whipping boys Wexford and Cabinteely have improved for this year. Albeit none of this matters until a ball is kicked, and as we know from last year you don’t win the title in January.
By the time this piece is published Galway will have played their first game of their season against league favourites Shelbourne, which will give us a good indication of where the season will go. No doubt the players will work hard and fight for the badge under Murphy’s stewardship. Whether the difference in resources will show is another question. If its anything like the last game against Shelbourne, a 3-0 loss away from home, it could be a long season for the team.