Galway United get their First Division campaign underway this Friday when they take on Athlone Town in Eamonn Deacy Park (7.45pm) in a first league meeting between the sides in almost 12 years.
Geographically the nearest league club to United, the distance between the two could have shortened even further this week after Galway United manager, Shane Keegan, said he might have to move training to the Midlands town due to his side being denied rental access to Mervue United’s facilities at Fahy’s Field, which United have been using for the past number of years.
Mervue United decided not to rent their facilities to United’s senior team in a row over approaches made by United to U-18 and U-15 players on the books of the junior club, a row which has now resulted in United moving training to Drom (Salthill Devon) and Westside (Corrib Rangers), but the disruption to United’s preseason won’t help with the preparations for what looks like being one of the most open First Division title races in a long time.
Drogheda United and Finn Harps were both relegated along with United at the end of last season, while Shelbourne, Longford, and UCD are all expected to be in contention for the title. Cabinteely have also been building steadily since joining the league, while Cobh are also a threat, having finished second last season.
In fact, United could not have been handed a kinder start to the season, as Athlone Town are the one side everyone has written off as no-hopers, having finished bottom last season with four wins from 28 games in a year that saw the club mired in match-fixing allegations, with two players handed lengthy bans.
For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.