The New Year always prompts reflections and resolutions. This is particularly true of sportspeople. Ambitions, resolve and dreams are brought into the sharpest focus. We in Galway have been particularly well served by our footballers, hurlers, rugby teams, oars people and boxers to name but a few.
As one who witnessed with awe the most unlikely dawn of League of Ireland football in Galway in 1977 and enjoyed its few great days, the affairs of Galway United are close to my heart.
Galway United this season embark on the DNA project of manager Alan Murphy whose ethos is to play and promote the best and brightest young local talent. No Irish club will embrace the adage of ‘Mol an Óige’ more than United.The Bish teacher and record Galway United scorer is remarkably well placed to shape the club’s direction. At last there is a distinct Galway football vision and a leader committed to developing it.
However, he must not be left alone in his pursuit of this goal. Galway United Co-Op has now commenced work on its project of ‘Reclaiming The Dyke’ for our first league game of the season on Friday February 22. The ambition is for all supporters to march up the Dyke from Woodquay to Eamonn Deacy Park in support and solidarity with our young stars.
We are asking all former Galway United players, former club officials, lapsed supporters and all followers, past, present and future to be a part of that march. We want men and women, boys, girls, families with different generations involved to rally with us.
Our appeal in particular is to all who play the game at schoolboy or schoolgirl level, youth or junior football to join us on the march and at that game to pass the torch on to the new football generation.
We appeal to our Gaelic football, hurling and rugby friends and members of all sporting codes to join us.
In the earliest League of Ireland days followers walked up the Dyke Road, watched a game in a ground with the most basic facilities huddling together in ’The Shed’ and then rambled down the Dyke together reflecting on the game and Galway’s new place in the footballing sun.
One remembers the communal aspect of that walk, the football families who walked together, the different generations together and that sense that this was uniquely ours.
Sadly, today journeys are by car and that old sense of community is diluted.
This will be an occasion to revive memories, fun and laughter and to reclaim solidarity with both the team and the Galway jersey. People might well ask as to what is the target?
It can be the biggest league crowd of the season in the First Division, the biggest Terryland league crowd of the last generation or the biggest League of Ireland crowd to watch a match in the league that night. There is no failure except our own lack of a valiant and sterling effort to realise the dream of rising the maroon blood again.
What will you witness on the night? A very young team, our youngest ever, wonderfully talented and committed. They are young and they are ours. Hailing from our clubs, communities, from our towns and villages shaped by their families, their former mentors and the guardians of Galway game.
They are Galwegian. They are ours. They are unique.
Seo í an oíche a sheasfaidh agus a shiúlfaidh muid gualann le gualann in éindí arís le gliondar agus aiteas croí. Déanfaidh muid ár seacht míle dícheall an díog a athghabháil cinnte agus an miongháire a chur ar ais ar éadan sacar na Gaillimhe. Ní beag san!
It is important that we thank all those players, supporters and our generous sponsors for the faith and trust they placed in us. There is a spirit of renewal about the club in recent months and a determination to seize the opportunity presenting itself with the generosity of the Comer Brothers’ development of our football academy and wonderful training facilities.
I trust this renewal can fire the club’s connection with all of Galway soccer and followers of all codes. All are needed on February 22.