The SSE Airtricity League First Division mid season break is always a time for reflection.
Last Friday’s loss away to Cobh Ramblers was Galway United’s third straight defeat - another painful experience in a campaign that is all about learning and development.
Operating with a budget that has been slashed by approximately 70 per cent compared to 2018, United manager Alan Murphy has given youth a fling. Inevitably the performance range has varied, while achieving a satisfactory level of consistency is an issue.
That was clearly outlined at the outset of the journey by Murphy, who was completely aware of the challenges that existed. Few are better placed than the St Joseph’s College schoolteacher to assess the local talent available in the west.
Short term pain was going to be endured in the interests of obtaining long term gain. Now the time has arrived to start properly plotting for the future so surely United should be allowing Murphy to build a squad capable of mounting a push for promotion in 2020.
The first step on that adventure should be to ensure footballers such as Kevin Horgan, Chris Horgan, Dara Costelloe, Donal Higgins, Colin Kelly, and Shane Doherty, among others, are afforded new deals quickly. Significant talk surrounds the fact that League of Ireland clubs now field teams at under 13, 15, 17, and 19 level, but unlike other outfits in the country United have not started to offer contracts to emerging talent.
Considering the emphasis Murphy has placed on constructing a sustainable model it is somewhat worrying that United appear to be following a similar script to recent years when simply lurching from one season to the next.
Murphy’s desire for the United cause is unquestionable, and while the results have been poor mitigating circumstances exist. Of the 12 league reversals suffered 10 have been by one goal margins, illustrating that United have been competitive in the vast majority of fixtures.
That offers some hope especially when taking into account how Murphy is seeking to change the culture in the first team set-up. Galway United should be aiming far higher than a mid table finish in the First Division, but it is a squad packed with teenagers. Chris Horgan, Ronan Asgari, Adam Rooney, Donal Higgins, Dara Costelloe, Joshua Keane Quinlivan, Conor Layng, and Wilson Waweru are all involved currently and have shown promise at various stages.
In Galway United’s history 2018 will certainly be identified as one of the most demanding stints. With one of the biggest wage bills in the First Division United flattered to deceive, while the talk and votes taken on outside investors which also failed to materialise was a damaging episode.
With United struggling to earn points the support has stayed quite strong for a team in the lower regions of the standings. Ensuring that United make progress in the coming weeks and months is the current brief. It will only be achieved if the United management and players are allowed to prepare for the future now rather than merely waiting for the annual crisis meeting in November. That uncertainty has hindered United on many occasions, but Murphy must be granted time to carry out the project undertaken.