The CEO of the FAI has commiserated with Galway United fans on the demise of the club, but has asked them to row in behind the new side that is being lined up to represent Galway in the Airtricity League First Division next season.
Speaking at the launch of Galway FC at the Connacht Hotel in Galway City on Monday night, John Delaney acknowledged the disappointment of United fans that the club had gone to the wall, but he asked them to throw their support behind the new side in the season ahead.
“It is bad enough when your team is hurting on the pitch, when results are going against you, but to suffer because your club goes out of existence is particularly hard,” he told a crowd of more than 200 people at the launch of Galway FC.
He praised the involvement of the Galway United Supporters Trust (GUST) in the formation of Galway FC, and said that “if you have no supporters, you have no club – they are hugely important to the success of Galway FC”.
The formation of a club that is meant to unite the soccer community in Galway has actually caused a serious split in the GUST, with some members refusing to give Galway FC their backing over a lack of clarity on the formation of a co-operative structure to run the new club.
The supporters’ group held a meeting in September at which a motion asking that a set timeframe was put in place a co-op structure to run Galway FC – that vote was presented to the Board of Galway FC, which has set up a sub-committee to address the issue.
That sub-committee is due to report to the Board in the near future – Chairman of Galway FC, Bernie O’Connell, confirmed in a passionate speech that the co-op structure was being seriously looked at and a report was imminent – but some GUST members are furious that no follow-up meeting of the group has been held to update its members on the progress over the co-op proposal.
However, speaking at the launch on Monday night, Mayor of Galway City, Padraig Conneely, also called on people to put the past behind them, saying the new club will put Galway on the soccer map “stronger than ever”.
“Stop talking, go to Eamonn Deacy Park, this has to be supported by the public. The Comer brothers have laid the foundation with their sponsorship of Galway FC, so forget about the past, it is time to move forward, only with the support of the public will this be a success,” said Mayor Conneely, who was a Galway United season ticket holder.
“I was disappointed when soccer disappeared from Galway, but we are back, and we are back stronger than ever. We are here for the launch of what we should have always had – we had a temporary lapse, but we are back stronger than ever.
He praised the work of Delaney in driving the project to have a united team in Galway, as well as the work of O’Connell, describing the former secretary of Galway United as “hugely dedicated, a true follower of the game who has Galway at his heart”.
He also said that the GUST “should be commended, they are standing there on Shop Street every week and they kept the show on the road”, which was greeted by warm applause, as was the arrival of Brian and Luke Comer, the Glenamaddy brothers whose company, Comer Property Group, has signed a three-year sponsorship deal with the club.
There has been no official confirmation as to the value of the deal, but it is widely accepted to be worth €100,000 a year for three years, which Delaney described as “one of the biggest in the League”.
He told the packed gathering how the sponsorship deal was secured: Jim McDermott, a member of GUST and a native of Glenamaddy, grew up with the Comer brothers and broached the possibility of sponsorship with them when GUST were looking to enter a team into the League of Ireland after the demise of Galway United.
After initial soundings, the FAI became involved when talks began over Galway FC, and Delaney travelled to London to meet the Comers, with the deal finally being signed 20 minutes before kick-off in the Republic of Ireland’s World Cup qualifier with Sweden in the Aviva Stadium in early September.
“They have been brilliant – without their involvement, it would have been very difficult to start,” Delaney said.
Speaking exclusively to Tribune Sport, Brian Comer said the reason his company decided to get involved was because it knew the value of sport for young people, along with the desire to see top-flight football return to Galway.
“We were disappointed to see the way football had gone in Galway, and we would like to see a team back up in the Premier Division, where Galway deserves to have a team. Sport is very important to young people, and we see this new club as one which young people from the city and the county can identify with,” he said.
Asked about the details of the sponsorship deal, he was reluctant to put an exact figure on the amount, but admitted it was significant, and for a very good reason: “There is no point in half-measures, if you are going to do something, you have to do it right, and that is why we have agreed to the deal we have with Galway FC,” said Brian, who along with his brother Luke, and Luke’s son Barry, travelled down from Dublin to attend the launch.
The launch was also attended by Director of the Airtricity League, Fran Gain; and Chairman of the League, Eamon Naughton, who both have ties to Galway. Naughton is a native of Galway, and is a previous Board member of Galway United; while Gavin made 47 appearances for Galway United over a four-year period, and also served as temporary manager alongside Denis Bonner in November 1988 following the departure of John Herrick, until the appointment of Seamus McDonagh, who is the new goalkeeping coach to the Republic of Ireland senior squad.
Naughton spoke of his hope that Galway FC would develop into a strong side that would represent the city and county for years to come; while Gavin said he wanted to see the club not only back in the Premier Division, but in European action.
For more on this story, check out this week’s Connacht Tribune and Galway City Tribune.
Galway United’s chance to close gap on table-toppers Shels
Friday the 13th – unlucky for some – and Galway United will be hoping it is an unlucky night for runaway leaders Shelbourne on Friday evening. Shels, who are currently 10 points clear of second place United, are still unbeaten in this year’s First Division with 12 wins and six draws to their name.
The Tribesmen go into this week’s pivotal fixture after a disappointing 3-2 defeat against Cork City last Friday at Eamonn Deacy Park. The game had a ‘hit-and-run’ feel to it as Colin Healy’s side snatched all three points with ten minutes to go which ended United’s seven-game unbeaten league run.
BY TOM BYRNE
Even so, United replaced Treaty United in second place on goal difference after the Limerick outfit were defeated 4-1 by Cabinteely at the Markets Field.
Shelbourne have been the team to beat this season as they look odds-on to win this season’s First Division with nine games to go. Ian Morris’ side were hampered by a number of Covid cases in their squad for last week’s game against UCD, where they drew 0-0 at the UCD Bowl. It is expected that they will have players returning for their crucial clash against United at Terryland.
The two clubs have faced each other on 75 occasions. Shelbourne being victorious the more often with 39 wins, United defeating the north-Dubliners 17 times and 19 games ending in stalemate. United have hit the Shels net 86 times while the 2019 First Division winners have scored on 132 occasions against United.
The two teams played out a 0-0 draw at Eamonn Deacy Park in the first game this season, while Shelbourne had the upper hand in the reverse fixture when they overcame United 4-0 at Tolka Park in May.
Goal friendly Shels have struck 36 goals in 18 games so far this campaign, with former Shamrock Rovers man Ryan Brennan bagging ten of those. United will look to Wilson Waweru and Ruairi Keating for their main source of goals, with the latter hitting the net on seven occasions this season. Waweru brought his goal tally to six last week when he scored United’s first equalising goal against Cork City.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the soccer preview, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.
Lomboto’s late strike earns United share of the spoils
Galway United 2
Athlone Town 2
GALWAY United had to twice come from behind against basement side Athlone Town on Monday night to snatch a draw that was, on balance, probably a little harsh on the visiting side.
Completely outplayed in the opening 45 minutes, United had an absolute howler from visiting goalkeeper, Aaron Myles, to thank for going into the break on level terms; and then needed an equaliser five minutes from time to claim a draw against a side that came into the game having lost all four games they had played this season.
Alan Murphy’s side already find themselves nine points behind the league leaders just four games into the season, and a major improvement is needed if they are to finish in the top half of the table and inside the play-off spots.
Their central midfield was way off the mark on Monday night – both Maurice Nugent and Sam Warde were hauled ashore before the final whistle – and having abandoned the 4-4-2 formation which delivered some decent results near the end of last season, they are struggling to get quality ball into the opposition box.
With Shane Duggan expected to return to central midfield after suspension for this Saturday’s trip to Cobh Ramblers, it might be time to go with some out-and-out wingers and get some cohesion in the side.
The first couple of half chances on Monday fell to the home side, but Mikey Place didn’t get any power behind his second minute effort; while Marc Ludden was well off target subsequently.
The visitors, who had the opening half’s best player in their ranks in the guise of Galway native, Ronan Manning, went close a couple of times themselves in the ninth minute, United surviving thanks to Cian Murphy getting a block on Adam Lennon’s shot; while Kevin Horgan pulled off a ‘worldie’ to deny Joel Coustrain from the subsequent corner.
By that stage, the visitors were starting to get on top, and they took a deserved lead in the 22nd minute when Manning’s corner from the left was met by Taner Dogan at the back post to head home as the United marking was, not for the first time this season, shambolic at a set-piece.
Tempers were starting to fray a little, with both sides having two players finding their way into the notebook of Dublin referee, Oliver Moran, before United were gifted an equaliser in the 41st minute.
Full report in this week’s Connacht Tribune
Doyle bags hat-trick in Galway WFC romp
GALWAY WFC notched a second win in a row in the Women’s National League when they defeated Limerick 6-1 at the Markets Field on Sunday afternoon.
A McKenna Doyle hat trick and goals from Sadbh Doyle, Chloe Singleton and Aoife Thompson helped the Galway women to a resounding win. Five of the six goals for Galway were assisted by Lynsey McKey during what was a stellar performance by the experienced midfielder.
Galway WFC are back in action at Eamonn Deacy Park tomorrow (Saturday, kick off 3pm) when they welcome league leaders Peamount United.
See full match report in City Tribune Sport.