Celebration time as Utd finally return to top flight


From this week's Galway City Tribune

From this week's Galway City Tribune

Celebration time as Utd finally return to top flight Celebration time as Utd finally return to top flight

Kerry FC 0

Galway United 4

Keith Kelly at Mounthawk Park

AT last. At long long last: promotion . . . champions . . . silverware. Just take a breath and close your eyes and let that sink in one more time.

There were incredibly emotional scenes in Tralee on Friday night as Galway United bridged a scarcely-believable 26 years to the last piece of silverware won by the club. Travelling fans spilled on to the pitch to celebrate with players and club officials, as FAI representatives handed out bottles of champagne for popping and spraying.

It would have been nice to have officially won the title on their home patch, but in a way, it was fitting that the title was confirmed away from home, as it was the hardcore United fans who were there to see history being made.

The fans who stood out on an uncovered terrace in Donegal in the pouring rain back in February on the opening day of the season; the fans who get up for work on a Saturday, having only arrived at home at 3am from the 400-mile round trip to Ferrycarrig Park in Wexford; the fans who travelled to UCD for a Cup game, saw it abandoned at half-time, and made the journey back to Dublin again three days later for the rearranged fixture. That win on Friday was for them.

The volunteers and board members and club staff who keep the club ticking over, who are in Eamonn Deacy Park three hours before kick-off every second Friday and don’t get to see a second of the game. Those volunteers who travel to away games as their only chance to watch their team, only to end up sitting in an opposition clubhouse taking care of a fan who became unwell at the ground. That win on Friday was for them.

Seven of United’s starting XI on Friday night weren’t even born the last time the Tribesmen had a pot to shine. They may not have known the millstone that was around the neck of the club, but they have cut that loose in clinical, brilliant, magical fashion this season. The entire squad deserved that win.

John Caulfield was brought on board in August 2020 to get United back into the Premier Division, and while it might have taken longer than expected, that has been delivered. It could be argued that United were not ready for promotion before this season: now, fans will be confident they can mix it with the best in the top-flight in 2024. The win completed a personal clean sweep of domestic trophies for the United manager, just the fourth man to manage United to a major trophy. He deserved that win.

Pictured: Galway United’s Aodh Dervin launching an attack against Stephen Doherty of Finn Harps during Monday night’s First Division tie at Eamonn Deasy Park. Photo: Joe O’Shaughnessy.

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