A new era for Galway soccer as SD Galway open league campaign

League of Ireland football returns tomorrow night with the newly named SD Galway FC making the short trip to Lissywoolen for a tussle with Athlone Town.

Mervue United are also in action at Fahy's Field against another midland outfit, Longford Town (7.45pm ), as the season gets underway.

Following two disappointing campaigns as Salthill Devon, the arrival of manager Tony Mannion should aid SD Galway FC, who will play their home fixtures at Terryland Park.

Mannion is joined on the coaching staff by his brother John, a Galway United legend, and is relishing the task of seeking to improve SD Galway FC.

“It will be a difficult challenge for us, but we didn't expect anything different. There is a a lot to be done, but we are enjoying it so far. Training has gone well, we haven't suffered too many injuries in pre-season. The squad is big and we want to improve the quality of it going forward, but at the moment there is a nice mix of youth and experience. It is important that there is experience there to help the younger guys through because we have lots of good young players with potential.

“Having John involved is a good thing too. He brings experience and enthusiasm. He knows what is required to play at this level. John brings a new dimension and a new demand. There is a challenge there for the squad and John's guidance can help these players.”

Following negotiations with the FAI Mannion hopes the move to Terryland will be beneficial for SD Galway FC.

“Our job is to go out to play games. The FAI didn't want it [Terryland] to be unused because they wanted to avoid a situation like the one in Kilkenny, where Buckley Park, a fine ground, doesn't get any use in the League of Ireland.

“We took up the challenge. We opted to do the things they wanted like playing out of Terryland, having Galway in the name, and playing in a maroon kit. We fulfilled most of their requirements and we see playing in Terryland as a good thing because we have to provide an organisation where people can fulfil their true potential.

“This isn't about just Salthill. We have people from all walks of life in the city and indeed the continent involved in the club. That is what football is about, people coming together in a competitive environment seeking to be the best they can be. That is the challenge we have taken. We will do what we can honestly and it is up to the people to decide whether they want to come to watch us or not. Our target is to play good, entertaining football, that is what we will be striving to do.”

Across town Mervue United boss Johnny Glynn wants to build on last season's promising campaign starting against Longford on Friday.

A seventh-placed finish in the first division represented an adequate 2011 for Mervue, but the losses of Ger Hanley, John Mountney, and Dan Cunningham to premier division outfit Dundalk is a “blow”, according to Glynn.

“We have lost a number of players from last season's squad. The three lads who went to Dundalk is a blow - there is no doubt about that. Dave O'Brien has emigrated to Austrailia, Kevin Crehan is finishing a course in Liverpool, while Mike Tierney and Nicky Curran are now playing with Salthill.

“On the flipside we have three players coming in from Galway United with Stephen Walsh, Gary Kelly, and Alan Murphy coming into the squad. Alan brings lots of experience and at this stage I would envisage him playing in an advanced midfield role for us which should be a good help.”

Having made progress, Glynn wants to ensure Mervue continue to develop in the coming weeks and months.

“Last year we definitely gained respect. That was important for us and really I suppose it was what last season was all about. The players certainly have more confidence and they got that by earning good results during the season.

“We are ambitious at Mervue United and starting out our goal will be to improve on last season. That is what we want to do. Obviously it is early in the year to assess where exactly we are, but at this stage that is our intention and we will be doing everything we can.”

Murphy, Walsh, and Jason Molloy are suspended for the Longford encounter, while Martin Conneely, Mark Ludden, and Shane Keogh are expected to miss out through injury.

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