The highly regarded David Daly continues to serve the Galway game with distinction. As a player, coach, and referee Daly has thoroughly enjoyed being involved at all levels of football.
Now the West United assistant manager Daly’s desire for sport has not diminished since commencing under Michael O’Connor’s direction.
“I was blessed to come across Mike O'Connor from the West, who was the first manager to coach me,” Daly recalls.
“His contribution to football has never, ever been acknowledged, he has done more for football in Galway than a lot of people. He is still a gentleman to this day, a very quiet and reserved man, who had a great ability to get the best out of people.”
Football always occupied a central role growing up with his brother Gerry Daly emerging as one of Galway United’s most accomplished players. “I grew up in Shantalla with a group of people, who I am still friends with today after 40 or 50 years,” Daly adds.
“There was a bond more than anything else, that is the difference I found, that you were willing to sacrifice, that your parents sacrificed. We did not get a new pair of boots every year, we passed on boots, we passed on socks and togs, it was just a passion in life.
“Without a passion in life you have nothing. It was a passion we all had. A lot of the fellas I played with like my brother Gerard, Gerry Curran, Peter Mernagh all went on to play in the League of Ireland, they all had great careers. It was through the sacrifices that they made.
“The biggest difference is that it was more of a enjoyment for us, it was a passion. Now everything is geared to having a coach, having your badges. We played off the cuff football, what we did was we played street football first.”
Recently, though, Daly has been struck by John Caulfield’s willingness to truly engage with the Galway football community. It matters deeply to those immersed in the juvenile and junior ranks according to Daly.
“I notice since John Caulfield has come in there has been a change in the way people I talk to and the way I look at Galway United now,” Daly says.
“The enjoyment seems to be coming back into it, not because they are winning, but you will see John Caulfield at junior matches now what some of the other Galway United managers never did, that is not being disrespectful, they had other things to do. He has also brought in a great youth structure.
“My grandkids are playing with Galway United, if you told me a Galway United team would beat Bohs or Shamrock Rovers at any age level, you would have taken it. My grandson was on trial on Sunday with the Irish U14 squad, a fella said to me will he make it, I said it does not bother me whether he makes it or not once he gets enjoyment out of life, makes friends, and that he has a social life with it. You will make friends in football and all sports that will last you forever.”
During these exacting times people are enduring demanding days, but the benefits of sport remain clear for Daly, who is delighted to be involved with West once more.
“We have to cajole people out to play now,” he says. “They are on about mental health, on about obesity, the facilities should be there, I would put the money into sport. When all of this is over there is going to be a lot of mental health issues in Galway, not just Galway, all of Ireland.
“A lot of young teenagers are going to suffer, hopefully sport will be a way of getting them around. Very few TDs have brought it up in the Dáil, that we are going to suffer down the line with issues.”
**Listen to the full interview with David Daly on this week’s ‘Cian On Sport’ podcast available on Soundcloud, Spotify, and Apple podcasts.