Local connection key for passionate United supporter Dolan

Musician Eoin Dolan has followed Galway United since the 90s

Three decades later musician Eoin Dolan remains a believer that Galway United can finally deliver on its considerable promise.

Near misses and harrowing tales of woe are part and parcel of United’s story, but Dolan recalls his early years watching the club at the Sportsground and Crowley Park. It was a time when the club captured the imagination finishing third in the League of Ireland.

The Don O’Riordan era is also fondly recalled by Dolan, a spell when United truly connected with the local community.

“It began when Terryland was being redeveloped, my father took myself and my brother, Brendan, to a match,” Dolan says.

“My dad is originally from Dublin, it was just a way of connecting in with things here. He grew up going to Dalymount Park, following the League of Ireland, it was a natural thing for him to get involved with the local club here, Galway United, when he moved down.

“Like many Galway United fans of my generation when Don O'Riordan became manager, you had the likes of Eric Lavine and Ryan Lucas, Ollie Keogh, these players were around at that time.”

Aware of the value of sport and music, Dolan is adamant something is stirring in the west again under John Caulfield’s stewardship. “There was a Q and A with John Caulfield with the co-op at the start of this season, John Caulfield said something very interesting,” Dolan remarks.

“A question was put to him, they were asking about Cork City and what went right with Cork City when he was there. He said the focus on getting young people involved in the club, getting them to games, getting them interested in Cork City.

“It is fantastic to see all of the young people now that have been to the last number of games when bigger crowds were allowed at Eamonn Deacy Park.”

It brought back memories for Dolan. “I remember certainly the Don O'Riordan times going to school in Scoil Caitríona in Renmore, people in my class would be going up to the games,” he adds.

“That stays with you then, when you have that relationship built up with the club. You are seeing your neighbours and friends going to the games. That will stay with you through life, that is really, really important. John Caulfield said too that if you go down Shop Street or whatever and ask somebody in their 20s or 30s if they are a Galway United fan.

“More often than not when you ask them when they started supporting the club, 'when I was a child I was brought there by my father, uncle or mother, whoever'. That was the key to it, what they did back then with Don O'Riordan and the great group of players. The focus on getting young people and families involved in the club was very important.”

In these parts considerable weight and importance continues to be placed on getting young players through the system. It means so much to people to see emerging and established footballers from the locality representing the club.

“It is a very welcoming atmosphere, I have brought my friends and others that haven't been to a game in years or in some cases people that haven't been at all,” Dolan adds.

“That is the one thing they always say, how good the atmosphere is, they felt welcome by other supporters. That is such an important thing.

“When you are seeing players from the locality and community competing, that is so important for any club. Of course you are going to feel more connected to it, there is just so much talent in Galway.”

The 2021 campaign finished with pain United supporters have become accustomed to dealing with. Dolan, like many others, still carries hope and expectation ahead of the next adventure which will be launched soon.

**Listen to the full interview with Eoin Dolan on this week's 'Cian on Sport' podcast available on Soundcloud, Spotify, and Apple Podcasts.


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