Six of the Galway United squad which secured promotion to the Premier Division via the play-offs have signed with the club for the 2015 campaign.
Galway United manager Tommy Dunne expecting to add up to five more of the squad in the next 48 hours.
The club’s Player of the Season, Ryan Connolly, was the latest to put pen to paper with the club, and he joins Alex Byrne, Stephen Walsh, Jason Molloy, Ger Hanley and Jake Keegan in pledging their allegiance to a side that will revert to the name Galway United for the 2015 season.
Dunne is to speak to more of this season’s squad in the coming days, and hopes to finalise agreements with the likes of Marc Ludden, Gary Shanahan, Paul Sinnott, Conor Gleeson and Colm Horgan by tomorrow evening; while talks with Ryan Manning will begin after the club’s Young Player of the Year returns from international duty with the Irish U-19 side.
The budget for the 2015 season has been agreed by the Galway United board, and Dunne says it is along the lines of what he was expecting.
“Let’s just say there won’t be any million pound signings!” he said yesterday. “To be fair, the budget is what I was expecting, I wouldn’t have expected any more and we have to make that work as best we can now.
“The lads did the job this year, but of course making the step up to the Premier Division, we need to add a few bodies. We will need a bit of experience, I am looking at a few players, have made a few phone calls, but to be honest the money is fairly tight.
“It would be wrong to think we could compete on that level with the top sides, but I think with the players we had this year, if we can add a few more we’ll do okay,” he said.
Key to a successful season will be a strong start – Galway United certainly can’t afford to be as slow out of the blocks as they were in 2014, when they had to wait five games for a first win of the season. Athlone Town lost their first 10 games of the Premier Division campaign, and while they went on a late run of decent results, that poor start eventually cost them their place in the top flight.
Galway United can’t afford a similar start next season, but Dunne says that whatever start his side makes, his players will need the public to get behind them.
“There’s the saying that if the team does well, the fans will come out and support them, but for me, the fans need to come out for the club to do well. We need a minimum of 1,500 at every game, and I’d like to think that the clubs we will face will be a big attraction and I’d love to top the 4,000 mark at games, that would be a massive boost.
“Our fans were great to us this year, but we need more of them and on a consistent basis for next year. We played some lovely football, and if the people get behind us, it will help us build a successful team,” he said.
One of the big ‘hits’ with the fans last year was American striker Jake Keegan, and there is a chance he will be joined by more of his countrymen at the Dyke Road venue next season.
“Jake has signed, subject to a work permit being granted, but hopefully that won’t be a problem, and I’m not ruling out going to that side of the world for one or two more players. I have been told about a couple of players who could be worth a look at, so hopefully we’ll be able to get them over for a look,” Dunne said.
Pre-season training will begin on Monday January 12, and with the Premier Division fixtures list usually announced in December, it will be a busy few weeks for all involved with the club. Season tickets will go on sale in the coming weeks.
Corofin show no mercy in thrashing hapless Oughterard
IS there anything to be said for splitting Corofin in two? We jest, of course, but the Dublin-like dominance of the North Galway club on the local scene in the past decade shows no sign of abating.
A new championship, a new-look team, but the same old classy Corofin who were in seventh heaven after bagging a record seven goals in their 27-points victory over hapless Oughterard.
That Kevin O’Brien could spring dual county star, Daithi Burke, and Galway senior footballer Ian Burke, as second-half substitutes when the game was over as a contest, highlights the embarrassment of riches in the Corofin camp.
Nine of Corofin’s starters were on the starting 15 that won an historic three-in-a-row of All-Ireland titles in January, but the introduction of former Galway minor Matthew Cooley, who scored a goal off the bench on his senior club debut, highlighted, too, how they have young talent coming through.
Leaving aside the lack of resistance, particularly in the second half, the ruthless manner in which Corofin annihilated their Connemara opponents was frightening for all other pretenders to the throne.
As warnings go, this was savage, as Corofin signalled their intent about securing an eighth successive county title, with a clinical brushing aside of an Oughterard outfit whose heads-dropped early. Corofin had 11 different scorers, including seven goal scorers; all bar one of their 17 points, were from play.
Darragh Silke who finished with 1-7, ran riot in the second half, and was the game’s best performer, and Micheál Lundy (1-3) proved a handful on the inside line, but Corofin had quality dotted all over the field, and in truth, won without clicking into high gear.
If things went their way in the opening half, Oughterard’s spirits might not have been drained so soon, but they failed to convert the chances they had.
That was the big difference in the first half-hour: Corofin converted 10 out of 10 scoring opportunities that presented themselves, whereas Oughterard hit five wides, including two shots that should at the very least have troubled goalkeeper Bernard Power.
For Oughterard, this will cut deep. The 2019 All-Ireland intermediate winners were unbeaten in championship last season but got a rude awakening on their re-introduction to senior. Their first championship match back in senior in nearly 20 years, and they’re annihilated. To add to the embarrassment, it was televised live on TG4 for all to see.
It was effectively over at half-time, but it shouldn’t have been. Oughterard had enough of the play, and enough chances, to be still in with a shout at the change of ends and they just failed to punish their more ruthless opponents.
Full report in this week’s Connacht Tribune.
Monaghan to the rescue for Craughwell hurlers
THOMAS Monaghan’s stunning 67th minute leveller secured a dramatic share of the spoils for Craughwell in this re-fixed senior B round 1 encounter at Kenny Park on Thursday last.
A powerful final quarter display by Gort had put Mattie Murphy’s men in a strong position having trailed by two at the second water break and when Ronan Burke got on the end of a Paddy Commins line ball to fire his second score of the half, it looked as though Gort had timed their run to perfection leading 1-14 to 0-16.
But Craughwell were afforded one final opportunity and it fell to Monaghan who took possession in midfield on the sideline under the stand, burst past the challenge of Jason O’Donoghue and under immense pressure, fired over a sensational leveller right under the nose of the onlooking Shane O’Neill, who will no doubt have taken note.
It was no more than Craughwell deserved in truth, particularly given a couple of decisions regarding scores which might or might not have been which went against them late on.
With the sides deadlocked at 0-15 to 1-12 approaching the end of normal time, Craughwell were under the cosh but when Niall Healy blazed a shot over the bar to hand them the lead once again, they were back in the driving seat.
The roars from the Gort camp told otherwise though for the south Galway men were convinced that Healy had blasted wide and upon consultation with linesman James Lundon, the point was indeed waved off.
From the ensuing puckout, Paul Killilea pointed at the other end for Gort to complete a two-point swing and hand Gort the lead though once more, controversy followed with question marks over the score. Again Gerry Donohue consulted Lundon, only this time the decision wasn’t altered and the point stood.
For Craughwell to come back from those two sucker punches and snatch a draw will be hugely pleasing for Padraig Duddy, Evan Kilroy and Paul Cloonan, but the fact they found themselves in that position in the first place certainly won’t.
The result leaves both sides’ fate in their own hands essentially and should both pick up maximum points from their remaining games against Ballinderreen and Kinvara, points difference will determine who tops the group and returns to senior A hurling, though with Ballinderreen sitting pretty atop the group standings knowing a win over either will see them through to the knockout stages, it certainly won’t be that simple.
Full report in this week’s Connacht Tribune
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