The decision by Galway FC's board of directors to rename the club Galway United for next season’s SSE Airtricity League has been greeted positively by football followers ahead of tomorrow's promotion play-off first leg against Shelbourne (7.45pm ).
Eamonn Deacy Park will provide an ideal backdrop for this critical encounter, and with the second instalment scheduled for Tolka Park on Friday week, October 24, Tommy Dunne's Galway outfit will be striving to deliver a dynamic display on home turf.
A press release issued by the club on Sunday evening confirmed the name change. “The club’s licence application for 2015, to be submitted to the FAI next month, will be made under the name Galway United Football Club," the statement read.
“The board recognises the importance of restoring and building upon the rich tradition and heritage of Galway United in the hearts and minds of both the footballing and wider community in Galway as well as further afield and looks forward in coming years to replicating the on-field success of this season’s campaign.”
Galway FC's nine-man board comprises two representatives each from Galway United Supporters Trust (GUST ), Galway & District League, Salthill Devon, and Mervue United, with an independent chairman.
What division Galway United will operate in next year is the burning question as the winners of the Shelbourne tie must subsequently face whichever club finishes 11th in the SSE Airtricity League premier division.
However Galway's focus for now is Shelbourne, a team that possesses a nice blend of youth and experience. Johnny McDonnell's charges have won twice at the Dyke Road venue this year and Dylan Connolly, capped for the Republic of Ireland u- 21 side last week, remains their chief threat.
Galway manager Tommy Dunne is expecting two “tight”encounters against Shels. “I think we’re evenly matched teams,” says Dunne. “They are going to be tight affairs I’d imagine, making sure that you don’t do anything silly. We’re delighted to be here, but in saying that, we’re here and want to do as good as we possibly can.
“Our initial goal has been achieved. We wanted to keep the season alive right until the death, we’ve done that. We’ve an extra two games guaranteed, possibly four, so it’s interesting times. I’m hoping we can have a big support next week, because it’s a big match.”
The fact that both Galway and Shelbourne have earned admirers for their passing approaches this year adds another layer of intrigue, according to Dunne. “The games against Shelbourne have been good matches, we’re both footballing teams, we’re looking forward to it. It’s nice to bring big occasions back to Eamonn Deacy Park.”
Galway achieved the play-off following a 2-2 draw withWexford Youths in a lively contest Corribside on Sunday. Jake Keegan struck two fine goals for Galway, but Wexford replied. And with Shelbourne drawing at St Colman's Park against Cobh Ramblers, a second placed finish could not be achieved.
“We were delighted to get the play-off secured. We knew it was going to be a tough enough game and in fairness to Wexford, they’re a decent enough outfit.
“We had chances to win the match, but we need to start taking a few more, but overall you can’t be too harsh. All the players have worked really hard and it was a good game with four fantastic goals.
Dunne wants Galway to be safe and solid when Shels visit the west because the Tribesmen's form on the road all year has been impressive, suffering only one first division loss in 14.
“ I think our away form has been as good as anybody in the division. We only lost once on the road, so it’s important that we do well here in the first game on Friday.”
Striker Vinny Faherty accepts the upcoming jousts with Shels will be revealing.
“There definitely isn’t much between us and Shelbourne.” he says. “ I think we are definitely capable of beating them. We saw that the last time we played them at Tolka Park, we were very unlucky not to beat them. Again it will be just down to a few little decisions, decision making, taking chances. That will be the difference between us getting promoted or not."