Caulfield looking forward to Shelbourne opener

Manager John Caulfield believes Galway United’s SSE Airtricity League first division opener against title favourites Shelbourne will provide a significant Eamonn Deacy Park assignment.

The March 26 fixture on the banks of the Corrib promises to be a revealing encounter involving two outfits, who want to secure top flight status again.

“We went back to pre-season last week, it was exciting with everyone busting to get going,” Caulfield says. “Then at the start of this week you get the fixtures which creates another buzz. We knew what the target date was, but at least now you're focused on each game you have.

“We are playing probably the team that are favourites to go up. It is something we are obviously looking forward to. While it is still a bit away certainly we are starting with one of the toughest games, but that is the way it is going to be for the season.”

United boss Caulfield is adamant that the upcoming campaign will be packed with demanding matches considering the strength of several clubs in the first division.

“I think what we do know is that it will be an incredibly tough league, particularly when you only have one automatic promotion spot when you have so many teams that want to work for that,” Caulfield adds.

“At the same time when you get the fixtures it gives you a bit of a structure.”

Caulfield also confirmed that the number of pre-season friendly fixtures will be restricted in 2021. “At the moment we have applied for four pre-season games and we are waiting for them to be signed off,” Caulfield reveals.

“We were hoping to play five, but the FAI have limited the amount of time we can play due to Covid which is understandable.

“We have applied for four and we hope by the start of next week we will get confirmation that those games will go ahead. They are all against premier division clubs, they will be big tests for us, but we are just waiting for them to get officially signed off.

“It is different, last year when I came in, Mervue were good to us because they facilitated us for a match for some of our players, who weren't getting regular game time.

“Particularly with a squad of 22 it is nice to give fellas game time so certainly it is a consideration and a concern that we haven't that flexibility of playing another two or three games.”

With 10 new recruits in the squad, Caulfield is busy planning and plotting for next month’s Shelbourne tussle.

“The good thing is it is a new team because we are trying to bring a new culture in,” Caulfield replies.

“We all know the last three months of the season were great for us last year, we had momentum and a buzz.

“Obviously when you lose half of your squad and bring in 10 players you are effectively building a new culture and team really. That is a challenge, it is what we look forward to.

“We are trying to create our own new identity, to change the style of the team and the way we want to play. That is a challenge.

“We would have preferred to have more pre-season games, but it is what it is. If we can get the four premier division teams confirmed at least we will be playing four good teams and they will be big tests for us before the league starts.”


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