United host Wexford in final pre-season game before Premier Division opener

17 January 2024; Virgin Media Television announce details of live League of Ireland coverage, including televised SSE Airtricity Men's Premier Division fixtures. Pictured at the announcement are, from left, Maurice Nugent of Galway United, Richie Towell of Shamrock Rovers, and Paddy Barrett of Shelbourne, at Virgin Media Television Studios in Ballymount, Dublin.

17 January 2024; Virgin Media Television announce details of live League of Ireland coverage, including televised SSE Airtricity Men's Premier Division fixtures. Pictured at the announcement are, from left, Maurice Nugent of Galway United, Richie Towell of Shamrock Rovers, and Paddy Barrett of Shelbourne, at Virgin Media Television Studios in Ballymount, Dublin.

After a busy pre-season, Galway United are in the final week of preparations for the Premier Division. They will complete their series of friendlies this Saturday when they entertain Wexford FC in Eamonn Deacy Park (Kick-Off 7pm ).

It is the first chance for home fans to gauge how the 2024 squad is shaping up, and it promises to be a good indicator of where the squad is at.

United have again been busy in the last week. John Caulfield’s men saw off Longford Town 3-0 last Saturday with relative ease.

Encouragingly, it was three new signings that provided the goals in Bishopsgate. Leo Gaxha, who impressed yet again, put the visitors 1-0 up with a well-taken goal. Patrick Hickey, the strong and versatile American, made it 2-0 on the hour mark. Garry Buckley, the experienced defender signed from Sligo, sealed the win with a third.

Buckley was on target again for United when they took on his former club in Solar 21 Milebush Park on Tuesday afternoon. His second-half strike salvaged a 1-1 draw for United as they faced their Connacht rivals for the second time in as many weeks.

United had gone behind to an early set-piece but will have been happy with their response in the second half.

After games on the road in Limerick, Killarney, Tralee, Fermoy, Westport, Longford and Castlebar, United will be pleased to get the dress rehearsal under their belts in Terryland on Saturday.

Their first league opponents, and reigning FAI cup champions St. Patrick's Athletic, will have the advantage of playing in the President’s Cup against Shamrock Rovers on Friday. So Saturday may take on some slight additional significance.

Wexford have recruited and retained well in the off-season. They should prove a decent test, having earned a draw against last time out against an admittedly understrength Shelbourne side. Mikie Rowe and Thomas Oluwa will be familiar faces making the trip west, while Ethan Boyle and Aaron Dobbs are players to watch out for.

The critical piece exercising the minds of the United faithful will not be Saturday’s outcome but rather the final composition of the United squad. As expected, Colm Horgan has re-signed after proving his fitness in pre-season. Ronan Manning unfortunately remains sidelined through injury.

After the signing of Tom Costello, there appears to be at least one spot still up for grabs in attack. Fans will hope for another foreign acquisition in the coming week.

Whoever takes the field in maroon on Friday week should enjoy Galway backing. The stated ambition of the manager is for the game to sell out. With season tickets selling better than ever and a strong away crowd expected, supporters are advised to get their tickets early.

An undoubtedly tough opening fixture, it does conjure some happy memories among the United faithful of some memorable opening day wins in Richmond Park in 2009 and 2016. A positive result on Friday week would similarly live long in the annals.

 

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