With Galway United's SSE Airtricity League premier division status secured for 2016, manager Tommy Dunne believes the club can develop significantly next year.
Reaching the EA Sports Cup decider and avoiding relegation means United have enjoyed a reasonable campaign, but Dunne wants to make further progress.
“I’d like to congratulate the lads for a good, heartfelt effort right throughout the season,” Dunne says. “We just feel that next year we will need to step it up a little bit more.
“Maybe I’m a bit harsh on the guys. There were games and a lot of times at certain stages of the season when we played 90 minutes and 120 minutes and penalties. That takes its toll. As I’ve said before, some guys kept themselves really fit and right to get through the season. Others found it difficult to get up to the pace of the premier division. Overall we achieved what we set out to do this year.”
Last Friday's defeat to St Patrick's Athletic didn't matter hugely as United avoided a dreaded promotion/relegation play/off.
“We got over the line in the end,” Dunne says. “I suppose we would have liked to have finished off with a result, we didn’t. Pat’s had the better chances over the course of the 90 minutes, but we had a great chance to equalise near the end. We didn’t take it.
“I think we knew we were going to be in the premier division next year before the game started. As long as we didn’t get opened up and hit for six or seven, we always knew we were okay.”
Colm Horgan, Ryan Connolly, and Padraic Cunningham have re-signed with United which is encouraging news, according to Dunne.
“We have picked up the boys [Colm Horgan and Ryan Connolly], and Padraic Cunningham has also signed. That is the start. We have other lads who I’ll be sitting down and talking to over the next week or two. Of course we are looking at other candidates outside of the club too.
“We need to get a group and a squad together as quickly as we can so we can prepare for next season.”
Dunne is keen to sign some established League of Ireland players before assembling for pre-season training in January.
“The group was small and quite young and, in the premier division, it was relatively inexperienced. It was the first time for the majority of the group at this level. You could see they found it tough. The key for us is to prepare a lot better and properly for next year.
"We have to start picking up players and signing players who we want to stay at the club. We want to be ready for next year. We want to improve in all areas of the pitch. In an off season you have to look to improve in every position, if possible. Whether it is achievable it is another thing, but we will be looking to do it.”