GALWAY United fans have been left stunned after the club sold arguably its player of the season, Lee Grace, to Shamrock Rovers in the final minutes of the transfer window on Monday.
The centre-back joins Vinny Faherty in leaving the club, and while Faherty’s move to Sligo Rovers was well flagged, the departure of Grace to the Tallaght Stadium came as a major shock.
The club issued a brief five-line statement just after 8pm on Monday announcing Grace’s departure, saying an offer from Shamrock Rovers was accepted “with the long term future of the club in mind”, but it has failed to expand on the exact meaning of that, or the reasoning behind the sale.
“Galway United can confirm that Lee Grace has joined Shamrock Rovers for an undisclosed fee. The club were approached with an improved offer from Shamrock Rovers over the weekend, which was reluctantly accepted.
“The offer was accepted with the long-term future of the club in mind. Grace has made 26 appearances for United since joining from Wexford Youths, scoring one goal. We thank Lee for his service and wish him well in his future career,” the statement read.
Faherty has joined Sligo Rovers for the rest of the season, with Jonah Ayunga moving the other way in a loan deal from his parent club, Brighton & Hove Albion. Neither striker has found the net with any regularity this season.
The various moves come as United prepare for a must-win trip to Ballybofey to take on Finn Harps on Friday night (8pm), followed by a home semi-final in the EA Sports Cup against Dundalk on Monday (4pm).
United find themselves four points off safety in the league with nine games remaining, and with 10th placed Sligo Rovers hosting 9th placed St Pat’s on Saturday night, United need to take all three points from their trip to Donegal to keep their survival hopes alive.
Meanwhile, United have been handed a tie against non-league opposition in the First Round proper of the FAI Cup, after being drawn away to Killester United of Dublin. The game will take place at 2pm on Sunday, August 13 in Hadden Park, Killester.