Galway United Galway United began the First Division season with a breeze of positivity behind them – the announcement of exciting striker Danny Furlong and the re-capture of influential midfielder Ryan Connolly set the Tribesmen up for a rip-roarin
Galway United began the First Division season with a breeze of positivity behind them – the announcement of exciting striker Danny Furlong and the re-capture of influential midfielder Ryan Connolly set the Tribesmen up for a rip-roaring campaign.
Despite a decent start, the Corribsiders have slipped considerably in recent weeks and the mid-season break sees them off the pace in the fight for automatic promotion, three adrift of fourth-placed Longford Town and searching for a new manager following the surprise departure of Shane Keegan.
The mutual agreement reached by Galway and Keegan will not have been part of the plan, but it could give them the breather they need to regain focus and return with a bang. Some fans, however, will be sceptical of their ability to turn it around considering their lack of consistency thus far.
Mid-season rating: C
Currently sitting in sixth place, United are 12 points off top spot, a target they would have aimed for at the start of the season. Their distance from table-toppers UCD has been tough to take for the Corribsiders, but apathetic performances have crept in, inconsistency has spread like a virus and the team have not been helped by injuries to key players. Indeed, UCD’s breakaway will be doubly difficult to stomach considering Keegan managed United to a comfortable 2-0 win over the Students at Eamonn Deacy Park in May.
The general consensus, though, seems to be that United peaked that day and have been unable to re-produce, even against supposedly lesser outfits. A new face in the dugout might bring a fresh, winning approach but the momentum of any change will take time to have an effect.
Best player: Danny Furlong
The absence of star player and leading goal-scorer Furlong through injury over the last few weeks is undoubtedly one of the key reasons behind United’s drop-off in form, and the sooner he returns the better. With seven goals to his name, he is two strikes ahead of Eoin McCormack in the club goal-scorer charts. Furlong has been pivotal to several Galway victories and hit the ground running with a hat-trick on his debut, but without him spearheading the attack, the side have looked bereft of ideas.
Most promising newcomer: Carlton Ubaezuonu
On loan from Dundalk FC, Ubaezuonu has impressed the Deacy Park faithful during his time so far – and his dazzling dribbling skills have often been the boost from the bench the team have needed to get out of tight situations. He has also chipped in with some direct contributions in front of goal – his screamer against Wexford back in April was a particularly delightful strike. It would be great to see the youngster chip in with more goals, but an increase in his assists would also go down a treat as United look to fight back with a climb up the table.
Areas they need to strengthen: Mentality, Strikeforce and New Manager
A common theme streaking through United’s performances has been a lack of consistency – and that is likely down to mentality. Certain sections of the home faithful have grown impatient with the tactics and probing style of play employed by Keegan, but more frustrating than that has been the team’s regular concession of silly goals at key moment of matches.
Greater defensive security is needed. Plus, in front of that they need more contributions in front of goal from a larger pool of performers; if Furlong remains sidelined for long or goes absent again, who will stand up and be counted? Last but not least, United need a new manager in the hot-seat and while they have the break to consider their options, the crucial visit of Shelbourne will be upon them before they realise it.