It has been a somewhat depressing period over the past few weeks for followers of the Tribesmen, broken only by the performance of the city’s rowers in international competition and the selection of Paul and Olive Hession for the World Championships, (and only temporarily postponed for The Green and Red until the inevitible mauling by Kerry ).
However the news this week that Galway United’s young international starlet Jay O’Shea has secured a move to a Premiership team certainly warms the cockles of the heart.
While of course, it would have been preferable if he was able to stay with our side, it is satisfying because it tells the world that our local football team can facilitate a talent such as his.
There is no doubt that, like the GPO in 1916, once O’Shea starts playing regularly for Burmingham City, there will be no end to the numbers of us who will claim to have seen him play for Galway United at Terryland.
For those of you who have not been to Terryland for a while, you have missed seeing an outstanding talent who it is hoped will go on to shine for his new club Birmingham and also feature in future senior Republic of Ireland squads. It is perhaps appropriate too that he will ply his trade in the same city as that dignified local sportsman Chick Deasy did when he made the same journey three decades ago.
The way in which O’Shea spearheaded the club’s eventual escape from relegation last year may have been put down to a once-off rich vein of form, but this season O’Shea, by now the captain of the club, led with great example as Galway United had the most solid of starts. And they continue to do so.
It is a great shame that so many of the city’s sports fans missed out on seeing him and the quality of football that United have been playing this season. But it is not too late.
Much has been written of late about the mismanagement of League of Ireland clubs and it has been shocking as the major clubs have taken advantage of the loopholes in the FAI’s rules to effectively buy their way to the title and to literally forget about their duties to the taxman or their ultimate responsibility to fiscal rectitude. And when these discussions come up, the name of Galway United also featured, although unfairly, because unlike the bigger clubs who probably carry more weight in the FAI and who stick up a long-fingered two fingers to the rules, United took decisive action when required and with far more haste than the bigger clubs, who are prepared to win the league and have points deducted the next season.
For surviving that and being responsible, United deserve plaudits for bringing Friday night football to this city, and giving people the option of a fortnightly sporting social event as opposed to the drinkfests that the city is famed for. I’ve been supporting United for three decades. Now is the time to create a new generation of fans.
United are next at home on Tuesday night when they host Drogheda United. O’Shea won’t be on the team but, over the past few years, United have honed a style of quality football that is an ease on the eye and that will continue no matter who lines out for them. Manager Ian Foster has performed miracles on a non-existent budget and the club deserves our support. If you have free time as well over the next few days, go to Drom and see the talent there playing in the Umbro Cup. Right under our eyes, the stars of tomorrow are learning their trade. They just need us to roar them on. See you at Terryland on Tuesday.