Following a brief sabbatical Galway United’s League of Ireland season resumes tomorrow night at Terryland (7.45pm ) with Cork City providing the opposition.
Dwindling crowds are scarcely aiding clubs throughout the land, and Galway’s CEO Nick Leeson has acknowledged that the next few weeks are of paramount importance.
“The crowds for our last two matches against Derry City and Drogheda United weren’t good enough. There were mitigating circumstances with the Volvo Ocean Race, but we will be closely monitoring our attendance figures in July.
“We have introduced a Festival of Football scheme in which supporters get a ticket for our three games in July against Cork, Dundalk, and Millwall (July 19 ) for €30. Let’s say that 3,000 people bought these tickets, that would give the club €90,000. Between now and the end of the season our wages are roughly €100,000, so it is an important time for us.
“Were people to purchase these tickets it would leave us in a much better position where we could even possibly strengthen our squad. If they don’t, we will just be striving to hold onto what we have. It is very difficult to pinpoint why are crowds have fallen. I can remember a couple of years ago we played Cork on a Tuesday night, and we had a crowd of 3,200 at the game. There is interest in Galway United, but people must attend the games if we are to push on.”
Leeson is adamant Galway possess a promising manager in Ian Foster, and that there is sufficient ability in the squad to enjoy a top half finish. “I don’t think there are too many teams better than us really. We have a good young manager, and we try to play an attractive game, and if our attendances were bigger, I see no reason as to why we cannot push into the top five and look for a place in Europe.
“There is no point in denying this isn’t a vital spell for the club. Obviously times are tough in the business world - we saw that last week with a car dealership and the Irish newspaper Foinse suffering, and that is a huge pity. We are no different to anyone else, and we are always looking at new schemes and initiatives to help us.”
With several clubs expressing an interest in Galway’s Jay O’Shea, Leeson expects bids will be made for the Republic of Ireland u-21 international during the July transfer window. “We know a number of clubs will be represented at Terryland on Friday, and they are aware that Jay is an exceptional talent.
“We’ve had two enquiries in the last week from Middlesbrough and Swansea, and Paul Jewell, who was manager of Derby County when a deal was being arranged for Jay at the end of last year, is to become assistant manager at Stoke City so that might generate an interest too. All we know is that there will be a heavy representation at the game on Friday night and I believe that something could happen during this window.
“My honest opinion is that Jay won’t be with us at the end of July because I believe he has the talent to make a successful career in the United Kingdom. Obviously from the club’s perspective there is a huge financial benefit if Jay goes now rather than at the end of the League of Ireland season. It is not vital for the club that Jay is sold because if you have all your eggs in one basket that can lead to trouble, but being honest I would be very surprised if he is still with us at the end of July,” added Leeson.
Sean Kelly will miss tomorrow’s tussle with Cork due to the terms of his loan agreement, while Derek O’Brien is also a doubt as Galway seek to reach the half way point in the season with a positive result.
The Mervue squad returned to training on Sunday evening after a seven-day break, but Johnny Glynn’s charges remain ravaged by injury problems ahead of a demanding trip to Tolka Park for a clash with promotion aspirants Shelbourne tomorrow (8pm ).
Nicky Curran, Davie O’Dowd, Ger McGrath, and Noel McDonnell are ruled out of the Drumcondra encounter, while a doubt surrounds Nigel Keady’s participation due to work commitments. Mixie Harty and Mike Tierney return, and will provide midfield options for Mervue, who will be forced to deal with a physical Shelbourne strikeforce in Peter Hynes and Anto Flood.
Mervue have been competitive in every match with the obvious exception of the recent Monaghan United mauling, and they will be especially keen to produce a competent display in the capital.