United's youngsters to sign off season against Athone on Saturday

Following a remarkable weekend at Eamonn Deacy Park, packed with goals and encouragement, Galway United conclude their SSE Airtricity League first division campaign with an away fixture against Athlone Town at Lissywoolen on Saturday (7.45pm ).

Alan Murphy’s rapidly improving outfit, which has now won five out of the last six matches, summoned fine displays to overcome Cobh Ramblers 7-1 and Limerick FC 3-2 on home turf. The Limerick triumph was achieved courtesy of a last-gasp Conor Barry winner, adding to the sense of satisfaction for Murphy.

“I'm happy, it is three points," Murphy says. "It sustains that momentum we have been growing. It was a bit of deja vu in comparison to Friday night with all the chances we had that we didn't convert.

“On reflection we gave away bad goals again, but we should have been way ahead with all of the chances we had. The character of the players, who never stopped believing, ensured we eked out the result.

“Different guys got a chance, Caoilfhinn O'Dea got on to make his debut, he wins the tackle for the final goal. He can be proud of that.

“Still, it is a work in progress, but it is nice to be able to finish our season, in terms of home games, with a win. The huge entertainment factor like that, we didn't want it, but it was nice.”

Pathway

United, prompted by the splendid Donal Higgins, carved several opportunities against Limerick, the only pity was the teenager did not net the goal his dynamism deserved.

“It is not from the lack of work rate, he has some talent,” Murphy says. “He got 90 minutes on Monday and Friday, he just loves playing. Any position he plays he adapts to it, he makes it his own. There is a huge amount left in him, he is only starting off. Physically he is getting stronger, but he has loads of work to do on that, a lot of work even just his basic flexibility.

“He has had a tough year in terms of exams, so hopefully next year he will get a bit of a break. It will be nice and good to get him full-time in that being his sole focus and aim.”

O’Dea was the latest youngster to make his first team debut under Murphy, who has shown a real and admirable willingness to develop footballers.

“It is a pathway,” Murphy says. “That is what it is, I brought him to the club two and a half years ago. I saw the commitment and again it is about the recruitment of good guys. He is an awesome athlete and in terms of physically in the last two years it is just phenomenal. He has become a man overnight nearly.

“He is now in college in Galway, so he will be really focused on trying to make that step up. It is hugely important he gets his chance. Yes, we have blooded a lot of players, but he has stood out in terms of the U19s.

“I've worked hard personally looking at U17 and 19 games as much as I can, that needs to be. It was the same 20 years ago when I got my chance.”

Different challenge

Boosted by the mid-season signings of Jack Lynch, Killian Brouder, and Stephen Christopher, United have enjoyed a productive run of form. Finishing a testing year strongly is what Murphy wants to do in the midlands.

“Saturday will again be a different challenge”, Murphy remarks. “Athlone, no more than us, have been in a transition phase. It will be on astro, a different game, a lot of passing and possession probably, maybe a lot more technical.

“Eamonn Deacy Park is in great nick at the moment, but it is a different game on an astro. We have to prepare for that. We will be trying to continue the push we've had.

“Then the real work starts in the off season. It is a large off season, too large in terms of the amount of months that are off, but it is a good opportunity for me to really fix the errors of previous seasons, to learn from them, to try to hit the ground running.”

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