With the League of Ireland season now only a week away, Galway United’s preparations are drawing to a close, and tomorrow’s Terryland Park friendly with Hull City offers an ideal opportunity to assess how that process is going.
Manager Sean Connor is being forced to work with a severely restricted budget, but Galway United’s squad will still be laced with decent footballers in 2010 which is a significant achievement.
Connor has stated the importance of possessing a local core of players, and the capture of Stephen O’Donnell will add greatly to this dimension. The arrival of O’Donnell, who has been involved with Arsenal, Falkirk, Bohemians and Cork City, can only enhance the development of Seamus Conneely, Cian McBrien, Jonathan Keane, Paul Synott, and Jason Molloy.
Connor has been busy during pre-season, using the friendlies as trials. It would be misguided to read too much into the results, but Terryland Park regulars are encouraged by the arrivals of O’Donnell and Thomas Heary, who should provide plenty of guile. Young striker Karl Sheppard is another interesting signing, and was a highly regarded performer in Dublin schoolboy football before a switch to Everton. Sheppard has potential, and Connor has spoken about his intention of marrying youth with experience.
Jamie McKenzie is expected to earn inclusion at centre half, while James Creaney has operated at left full in some of the fixtures thus far.
Hull City have promised to bring a full strength squad to the Dyke Road so Republic of Ireland internationals Paul McShane, Kevin Kilbane, and Stephen Hunt should all feature for the Tigers.
Still the match that truly matters is the seasonal opener on March 5 at Richmond Park against St Patrick’s Athletic, and Galway’s focus will be on extending its smashing sequence of victories over the Inchicore outfit.
The next few days will determine who Connor chooses as his starting XI for that mission, and the Hull match promises to be a useful workout.
• Tickets for Friday evening’s friendly are also available from Galway United Supporters Trust. Contact Ronan Coleman at (087 ) 6972823 for further details.