Pre-season success tinged with sadness for Galway United

After a prolonged period of off-season inactivity, Galway United are back in the thick of pre-season. Tonight, they are in Killarney to take on Kerry FC in their third tie in six days.

They kicked off the season last Saturday in Limerick where they recorded a comfortable 2-0 win over a young Treaty United side.

Stephen Walsh and Francely Lomboto scored either side of half-time. United looked the sharper, stronger and fitter throughout. However, Treaty had fielded a stronger side in the Munster Senior Cup the night before and will have been pleased enough with their showing.

Of greater concern to the United faithful than the result would have been the showings of the new signings and triallists. Leo Gaxha, Karl O’ Sullivan and Patrick Hickey all started alongside six players listed as triallists.

O’ Sullivan lived up to the billing provided by manager John Caulfield. He was strong, direct and carried a threat. Patrick Hickey was strong and assured while Leo Gaxha was industrious on the wing.

Of the triallists, the left-back impressed most while a central striker worked hard and was unlucky not to find the net.

A stronger side was named for a Tuesday afternoon game played against Cork City. Brendan Clarke, David Hurley, Vince Borden and Ed McCarthy were among those who got their first starts of the campaign. While all of the usual caveats of pre-season apply, a 4-0 win over the recently relegated side is still noteworthy. A flurry of goals in 6 minutes midway through the half killed off the contest.

New signings Karl O’ Sullivan and Patrick Hickey built on their showings in Limerick, both getting on the scoresheet. Ed McCarthy and Wassim Aouachria chipped in with the others.

There was more positive news when Jeannot Esua, who played at right-back against Cork, was unveiled as United’s latest signing on Tuesday evening. The 27 year-old Cameroonian arrives from EIF, in the second-tier of Finnish football, and comes with a strong pedigree after stints in Canada and the US.

He is with the squad as they base themselves in Tralee for a training camp this week. It is a trip that is another indication of the increasing professionalism of football operations at the club. These are early days but there has been enough in the signings and performances thus far to instil hope in United fans for the difficult season that lies ahead. Despite the positivity surrounding Galway United, the overarching feeling in Galway soccer circles this week was one of sadness. The news of the sudden passing of Martin Horgan, a stalwart of the game, united the community in grief.

The brother of United’s Assistant Manager Ollie, Martin was an unwavering worker for the game. As a teacher, he coached St. Mary’s sides to All-Ireland success.

He produced teams in his image, that were competitive, hard-working and played with great spirit and discipline.

He was synonymous with the growth and success of Maree Oranmore FC, a club that now boasts some of the finest players, teams and facilities in the county.

Martin worked tirelessly for that club and community. A poignant club statement provided a fitting tribute, saying: ‘There will be kids of all abilities playing soccer in Maree & Oranmore for years to come due to his immense efforts and trojan work.’

A lasting legacy for a gentleman of the game.


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