By Darren Casserly
In football, a year is a long time and no example for this is more apt than the transformation Galway United have undergone. Going into the 2019 season, there was little expectation from Alan Murphy’s young squad and that lack of expectation came to fruition to a degree, with the Tribesmen struggling for much of the season. This 2020 team, however, is a different side, one with more experience and more quality throughout the team.
This ability to have such a different squad has come down, as always, to one thing: money. The Comer brothers, who have been funding the team since it’s reformation in 2014, have decided to increase their investment this season, following a break last year where Galway had to rely on themselves. It’s no surprise then that, last season, Galway had one of the smallest budgets and youngest teams in the league. Even with several new signings in the mid-season window, United had a squad that had quality but didn’t have the budget to make anything of a late season push. The young squad got to grips with First Division football, turned United’s season around and gave the fans a reason to hope for the 2020 season.
This hope has been turned into expectations through the signings that Alan Murphy has made, with a mix of youth, experience and talent from the likes of Shane Duggan, Mikey Place and Timmy Molloy. This new look United side is undoubtedly the strongest that has been at Eamonn Deacy Park since they were in the Premier Division. For the first time in a long time, Galway United also have a deep squad with several quality players able to play in any position, something they definitely could not have said last season, with Murphy relying heavily on the Under–19 squad to bolster the senior side.
However, one thing that hasn’t changed is the huge turnover of players year to year with this side. Just about half of the United side from last year has been retained, and with 14 new signings coming in, Murphy will have to make sure that this squad gels quickly, as a poor start could be detrimental to Galway’s promotion hopes.
In terms of promotion, Galway’s chances look pretty good, with a more experienced and deeper squad than nearly any other in the league, with only Drogheda and Cabinteely looking like the other most likely contenders for promotion. We have yet to see how well this team can play together, as we have seen from the 2018 side, which, on paper, looked to be the strongest side but, in reality, never looked like a team. However, it’s not just on the pitch that changes were made, Alan Murphy has added to his backroom staff, with the addition of former United players, Colin Fortune as assistant manager and Derek O’Brien as first team coach, so there is a lot to look forward for Galway fans this season and I’m going to be bold and say that Galway are going to be promoted this season and return to the top flight.