Supporters 'hoodwinked' with Kazeem saga, says Caulfield

Galway United manager John Caulfield speaking to the press. [Photo: Stephen McCarthy]

Galway United manager John Caulfield speaking to the press. [Photo: Stephen McCarthy]

Soccer returns to centre stage tonight when Galway United host Bohemians in the SSE Airtricity League (Kick-off 7.45pm ) after a week consumed by off-the-field activity.

In the upheaval, there have been three arrivals and there are three absentees from tonight’s home squad. The suspensions of important midfielders Aodh Dervin and Conor McCormack are at least temporary, but the departure of Al-Amin Kazeem to St. Pat’s after impressing on his loan from Colchester United, has caused some consternation Corribside.

Speaking on the matter, Galway United manager John Caulfield was frank in his assessment on the loss of a player that the club pushed hard to keep.

“We probably were aware that he [Kazeem] was going to move on. He was indicating to us that he was going back to the UK. Then obviously a few days before, we heard about this rumour [about St Pat's]. Obviously, you couldn’t prove it at the time.”

“Football is a short life. Players are entitled to go where they want. The disappointment for us is that he had been out of football for 12 months, he wasn’t getting any game time. We gave him the game time.

“Colchester were brilliant to deal with, but ultimately his agent and himself decided they wanted to go elsewhere, and there is no problem with that. But I think supporters were hoodwinked really, thinking you know that ‘I love Galway’ and all this, despite the fact that the club were giving him a very good contract. I think that was more disappointing that this hoodwinked the supporters.

“Let’s be straight, all you have to do is come out and say you don’t want to be in Galway. I want to move on. No problem. Don’t be pretending that you love the supporters, you love the club, when you know you’re going somewhere else. Particularly when it is up the road.

“People will say that Pat’s gave him an incredible deal - and they did. They have the money now to do that. They wouldn’t have employed Stephen Kenny on the biggest ever contract in the history of the League of Ireland and the budget to get all these players.”

“But still, at the same time, as a club we don’t want to be disrespected, and certainly the supporters don’t want to be disrespected.”

There are still shoots of optimism for United who have a number of players returning and arriving to bolster its ranks.

Bobby Burns was unveiled to supporters last week, and might have a chance to taste immediate action. His former Glentoran team-mate Junior Ogedi-Uzokwe is a player with the pedigree to also make a quick impact. Jimmy Keohane has as impressive CV, having turned out 170 times in the Football League and National League for Rochdale, and winning the league with Cork City.

Offering his assessment on the returnees and new arrivals, Caulfield said: “Leo [Gaxha] is back from sickness and Vince [Borden] is back in. Obviously, we have got the three new lads.”

“Junior was the lead goalscorer in the league in 2019. He is a centre-forward with very intelligent movement and good hold-up play. We needed someone to support Walshie. We are hoping that Junior will come in and give us more options.”

“Keohane is a very versatile player. He can play on either wing or in the 10. He is a very athletic, skilful player and he gets a few goals from midfield. He is a very good footballer.”

Even with these promising arrivals, there are still moves afoot to plug the hole at left-back, one exacerbated by the injury-ravaged season that Regan Donelon has endured.

The manager said: “We have been on the outlook anyway. It is hard to bring fellows in at the break to understand the culture of the league. We are looking to bring in a left-back. We are looking probably at some loans, but that might take a little bit of time.”

There had been some talk that Greg Cunningham had been training with the team, sparking some excitement among the most optimistic of supporters that the Irish international could be set for a sensational move home.

Caulfield confirmed that: “Greg has been home for a couple of weeks. He has come in training with us. It’s something that I would have done previously in Cork, where any Cork lads that played over in England [would come in]. It’s lovely to have them come in with the lads. Greg is home, he hasn’t gone back to pre-season and I told him he could use our facilities. It is great to have him around. He is going back to England in the coming weeks.”

The mid-season machinations that come with the break should not overshadow what is a very important game tonight. The manager’s final word and focus was there, aware of the danger presented by Bohs, a side that won well last time in Eamonn Deacy Park.

“Already, [Bohs] have brought three new players in this week. They see themselves challenging at the top and challenging for Europe. They are very disappointed at where they have been and that’s the reason they have changed manager. I suppose, the league is so competitive, it is not easy to make changes.

“Against us, it was the one game at home where we didn’t do justice to ourselves. They were very good and very aggressive. We have to be ready for the game. We weren’t at the levels where we normally are in terms of defending and playing last Friday. We have to do much better this weekend.”


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