Galway United manager John Caulfield expects a lively SSE Airtricity League first division encounter against UCD at Eamonn Deacy Park tomorrow (7.45pm ).
Andy Myler’s promising outfit have scored 49 goals in 22 fixtures with Caulfield acknowledging the students’ considerable potential.
“We are looking forward to it, second and third playing against each other,” Caulfield says. “We have the same points, different goal difference.
“UCD have had a tremendous season so far, highest goalscorers in the league with the top goalscorer on their team in Colm Whelan with Liam Kerrigan beside him. Paul Doyle, Dara Keane, they have very creative players getting goals all season.”
Caulfield is delighted that spectators are returning to the Dyke Road venue and wants his team to conclude the campaign strongly.
“We know it is a massive challenge for us, we know that with five games to go that two wins will get us into the play-offs,” Caulfield says. “We have to confirm our play/off spot.
“Obviously in the last two games we have kept two clean sheets, in the last game against Treaty we had 1500 people, our biggest crowd of the season - the first time that many people were allowed come into one of our games. We had been restricted and we were nearly at the maximum we were allowed in.
“The fact that we have another home game means we are hoping we have another huge crowd, a big vocal support. After the game the last day the players remarked how fantastic it was to play in front of such a noisy, passionate crowd.
“The encouragement from the stands was fantastic, we are looking forward to Friday night, to another big crowd with a cracking atmosphere. I think you will see a much more open game than the last day because both teams like to attack, to play open football.”
United defeated Athenry in a friendly on Thursday with Caulfield continuing his policy of affording U17 and U19 players chances to train and play with the first team.
“I'd like to thank Athenry, games like that gives you an opportunity to give game time to 22 players,” Caulfield says. “We were able to switch it up, the fact you train every day, having that game near the end of a week for players, they all look forward to that, it kept the routine.
“We have done a lot of work. This week against UCD is a massive test for us, Conor Kearns is suspended, Conor McCormack is suspended so Luke Dennison will play again after doing very well against Cabinteely and Treaty.”
Caulfield, who recently signed a new two year deal to stay on as United boss, is eager to develop local talent. “We want to promote from within,” Caulfield says. “We want to bring our own players through. This year we have a number of players that were in our underage teams that are in the first team panel, the likes of Wilson Waweru, Maurice Nugent, Caoilfhinn O'Dea, Colin Kelly, we had the Horgan brothers, Francely Lomboto, we need as many local players as we can.
“Obviously Alex Murphy in the last number of months came out of the U17s, got a professional contract. We want to have that pathway for young players to see that there is a real opportunity to get into professional football with their hometown club.
“You have huge demands and it is a huge step up, but we are constantly bringing players in from the U17s and U19s to show them what is needed, what is required, to show them the intensity of training so they can see it for themselves.”
It is critical according to Caulfield to assist emerging talent. “People don't understand, they just think there is very little difference - the different levels you go up there is massive differences,” he adds.
“In professional football the step up is massive, not only on the training pitch, but off the pitch - looking after yourself, doing your gym work, preparing yourself, really giving it 24-7. From that point of view we have introduced a lot of our younger academy players into first team training.
“That is something I will keep doing because certainly we have a lot of time for three or four of the young players coming through.
“We think they have a real chance to turn into professional players and hopefully turn into first team players for us. The more players we can bring through ourselves the better for the club.”