Familiar faces at games at every level throughout the county, Gary Traynor and Jason Murphy are delighted to be involved with an accomplished Galway United U14 outfit alongside head coach Xavi Vazquez.
It has been a remarkable campaign for United’s U14s, who face Shamrock Rovers at the Athlone Town on Saturday in a league decider.
The splendid 6-1 semi-final success over Cobh Ramblers illustrated United’s potential. “We had played Cobh in the elite phase, they had beaten us 3-0,” Traynor says.
“So that was a real shock to the system a couple of weeks ago. Our team talk was very simple on Saturday, do you remember four weeks ago when we lost 3-0? There you go boys. You have seen our guys play this season, when you talk about character these guys have an abundance of character. They are young men, we just facilitate them.”
Murphy acknowledges Vazquez’s tactical approach as being critical in assisting a talented collection of footballers. “The position we are in now, it wasn't our expectation at the beginning of the season,” Murphy says.
“Long term getting to a national final is an ideal scenario, but we set short term goals throughout the season. The first one was to qualify for the elite phase, the second one was to qualify for the quarter-finals.
“From there we have just kicked on. The players have done fabulously over the past few months. We play a system that not many other teams play so it just shows how talented these players are.
“Xavi is fantastic, as a coaching staff we all bring different things to the table. He brings a wealth of knowledge from Spain, look at the formation we are playing this year, how he implemented that formation. Our plan from the beginning of the season to now, where it has brought us.”
Traynor is excited about the future of the game in the west of Ireland, particularly with the recent link up between United and the Galway Football Association.
“This summer was my 20th year coaching,” Traynor says. “I started coaching with Power Soccer, a fantastic programme in Galway. I started when I was 20 years of age. I started working with three year olds so that has stood to me in terms of learning patience and empathy for players.
“I spent 16 years with Power Soccer. Four years ago Johnny Glynn gave me a call, he had just set up the Academy, he brought in Jason and Phil Trill at the time with a view to setting up an U13s national league squad.
“In terms of the Academy we have U14s, 15s, 17s, and 19s, but there is a lot of work going on behind the scenes with Jason, Xavi, myself, and Johnny Glynn with the U11s, 12s, and 13s to get them ready for national league.
“Lately we have tried to amalgamate with the Galway Football Association which is fantastic for Galway football as a whole that we have decided to work together from U12s and 13s.”
Sport always carried relevance for Murphy, who is relishing working as a coach too. “At a very young age I was surrounded by a family who loved football,” he explains.
“That is where I found my love for it, I have relations who played for Galway United. My coaching career kicked off when I went to GTI in 2014. I did my coaching badges, Johnny Glynn was my tutor at the time, I just found a love for coaching.”
**Listen to the full interview with Galway United Academy coaches Gary Traynor and Jason Murphy on this week’s ‘Cian On Sport’ podcast available on Soundcloud, Spotify, and Apple podcasts.