Promotion chasing Drogheda United will provide a youthful Galway United outfit with a stern examination at Eamonn Deacy Park tomorrow evening, kick off 7.45pm.
It has been a demanding campaign for United, who have introduced several teenagers throughout the season, but the news that Luke and Brian Comer have made a 40-acre site in Mountain South, Athenry, available to the club for the future development of a training complex is a most welcome boost according to manager Alan Murphy.
“This is the biggest news that we can get in terms of what we are working towards,” Murphy admits. “To have a facility for ourselves that we can develop to really nurture our young talent.
“For too long now we have been really struggling in terms of facilities borrowing and asking favours from a lot of good clubs in the county and outside the county, who have helped us.
“It has been really difficult at times. When teams are in season there is such a demand so we have been competitive having such a lack of facilities. It is a great step forward, it will be something that we can be proud of and take a higher step in terms of attracting even better players to the club, trying to press on from there.”
Assisting local talent is critical according to Murphy, who is hopeful about the future in the west. “Short term trying to develop and getting young kids up to speed some work can be done, but when you are creating a long term plan with sustainability, core development of your young underage players you need to be able to prepare for longer, for more than months,” Murphy adds.
“You need to be able to prepare for years, to have a plan and not to leave anything to chance in terms of development.
“This future facility will let us plan, will give us the tools that we need to have a vision of a Galway United team that will play at the highest level in Ireland with a huge chunk of our own players involved.”
Murphy acknowledges that the match against Drogheda will be revealing affording the emerging youngsters a chance to shine against decent opposition.
“This game is a really interesting one for us because we are coming up against a Drogheda side that are on fire in terms of performances, results, and consistency,” Murphy says.
“With the exception of Shelbourne they are right up there and it will be a very difficult task for our young and inexperienced players.
“We need to get experience, we don't want to change the team dramatically week in, week out, but I'm very much of the opinion that we have players in the squad that need the opportunity to try to develop, to try to stake a claim ahead of what we are trying to achieve next year.”
Last Saturday United eventually succumbed to heavy 4-0 defeat against Longford Town at the City Calling Stadium. United were competitive for a significant portion of that contest, but the midlanders finished with a real flourish.
Despite the setback Murphy remains positive and reckons recent recruit Killian Brouder, formerly of Limerick FC, can make a real impact. “Killian Brouder is the perfect example of the profile of player I have identified and stated that I want to bring to the club from day one when I took the job,” Murphy states.
“If we look at the performance against Longford there are some really important factors we need to analyse. When we look at the average age of the two teams it was exactly the same at 23 years and four months, but when we look at the appearances of both teams you look at a huge, huge difference. A lot of our 18 to 23-year-olds don't have any great experience.
“With Longford you look at Aodh Dervin, Sam Verdon, Shane Elworthy, these players have played a chunk of games. We might have the same profile in terms of age, but the real learning point is the experience we need to give to our players. Our players are largely Galway and the surrounding areas, whereas Longford none of them bar Aodh Dervin is from Longford.
“They have chosen the best crop that they can get from Dublin and the surrounding areas. It is hugely important to compare, to identify where we are going and the good work we are doing.”