It was a year of expectations for the tribesmen, with manager Sean Caufield having an off-season to build on the squad that lost in last year’s first division playoffs, expectations were understandably high. Caufield had shown me that he knew how to organize this United side and get results. I also think that the investment from the Comer group was clearly increased when looking at the signings they made during the transfer window.
A poor start derailed any chance of Galway winning the league, but with the playoffs there is always a chance and in the first round they faced a Bray side they had beaten only a couple of weeks before. But the unfortunate reality of playoffs are that they are a lottery and like all lotteries you’re probably not going to win.
A 0–0 draw in the first leg in Bray set up a very interesting second leg at home. It was a sold-out Eamon Deacy Park in front of over 3,700 fans where their season ended in a 1- 0 defeat. As I reflect on the season as a whole it was disappointing, but not without benefit. Finishing second shows that this team is capable of winning it next year and after a rocky start where Caufield was figuring out his best team a formation and starting 11 was found that one 12 of the last 17 games of the season.
Of course, given the teams budget and resources it could be said that more was expected of them, but only one team is guaranteed to go up and the poor start cost this team. If Caufield is able to keep this team together and bring in a couple players to sure up suspect areas I think this is a team that would be hot favourites to win the division next season.
The young players coming through is another reason the United fans can look forward to next year. The likes of Wilson Waweru emerging as one of the team’s focal points up front and 17-year-old defender Alex Murphy already playing like an experienced player are two players that will no doubt improve and become more important figures in the team next year.
The question of whether Sean Caufield is the man to lead this team into the future is still not clear and if United have as poor of a start next year as they did this year there might be fans calling for a change of manager and I wouldn’t personally blame them.