City and county should embrace return of Friday night football

When darkness falls across the city tomorrow night, there will be one perceptible change to the night landscape that has been lacking for some time. The night sky over the city will be illuminated by those four beacons of light that will beam down on perhaps the finest football surface in the league of Ireland. And when the sharp shrill of the whistle goes at 7.45pm it will bring to an end one saga for Galway sport and start off what is hoped will be a major rejuvenation of sporting pride in the region.

The evolution of Galway FC has been well documented and will not be reprised here. But whatever the rights and wrongs, the ifs and the buts, soccer fans of the former Galway United were made to spend far too many nights watching the Late Late when they would have much preferred to be walking up the Dyke Road to see our best take on the best from other parts of the country.

Like any dispute, its resolution involved compromise. None of the parties that have taken their place in this new set up can be said to have walked away with all of their requests satisfied. None of them would say that the situation is totally ideal from their individual point of view, but in terms of the bigger picture, there will be one well-supported team representing Galway in the League of Ireland this season.

So what can we expect?. It is a new beginning and with that in mind, manager Tommy Dunne has crafted a squad of some of the most exciting and experienced young players in the country. Over the past decade, the regions have provided some fine footballers and Dunne has dipped his hand into the ever increasing pool of ball players that has been created from the FAI’s vastly improved regional coaching structures.

The financial backing of the Comer brothers has given the club a headstart and the confidence to believe that it is here to stay if it gets a decent amount of support.

The man after whom the ground is named will no doubt be there in spirit tomorrow night and with the occasion being so special, President of Ireland Michael D Higgins is to return to the ground he frequented on many of those disappointing and thrilling Friday nights before he was elevated to the highest office in the land.

Many of Galway's finest players have gone on to great success with neighbours Sligo Rovers, and the Dublin clubs. One can only speculate about what might have been achieved if the events of the last five years had not happened, and they were all enabled to rule the roost for their hometown club.

There must be tens of thousands who claim to have been at Terryland at that historic first game versus Finn Harps in 1978. Tomorrow night is another new beginning. When my big brother brought me along as a kid, I grew up knowing Terryland as my San Siro, my Nou Camp, my Old Trafford — the arena at which I was going to see the highest level of football open for me and my friends to see. Take your children along tomorrow night and build a lifetime of memories for them. Get them to value the currency of a nighttime sporting and social occasion. Give them the material upon which to build their dreams. Give them the belief that they too can grace that pitch some day.

Best of luck to the directors, stakeholders, chairman, sponsors, manager, players and volunteers at Galway FC. Well done to all who played their part in getting it to this situation. Now all that remains is for us to get along to the ground tomorrow and get behind this exciting team representing Galway.

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