Now that the FAI Cup Final has been played off the League of Ireland season for 2018 has officially come to a close. With that in mind it’s time to take one final look back at United’s season.
Manager: Alan Murphy.
A change of manager half way through the season saw time run on Shane Keegan’s tenure in charge of Galway.
Top scorer: Eoin McCormack, Conor Barry (10).
Two players are level on ten goals at the top of the Galway United scoring charts. Eoin McCormack was a reliable presence up front for much of the season in a solid if unspectacular year. While winger Conor Barry was one very few bright sparks for United in quite a bleak season.
Stadium: Eamonn Deacy Park.
Highest attendance: 1,198 v Athlone, (4-1).
United’s highest attendance of the season came in the first game of the season as they hosted Athlone Town. The crowd reflected the air of hope and expectations that was around United in the earlier stages of the season, with title aspirations still in tact.
The almost 1200 strong contingency of Galway faithful that showed up for the opening game of the season were treated to an excellent showing from their side as they trounced Athlone 4-1. New signing Danny Furlong opened his account with a hat-trick on his league debut. Unfortunately, things didn’t pan out as well for the rest of Furlong’s time with The Tribesmen.
Lowest attendance: 435 v Athlone, (4-1).
On the other end of the scale, United’s lowest attendance of the season came against the same opponents. This fixture, however, came later on in the season as the air quickly drained from The Tribesmen’s promotion chase. A series of disappointing performances and results derailed United’s season and attendances reflected the fact.
United’s season got off to a decent start, however, a run off six games without a win left many fans disillusioned. So when Athlone Town rocked back into Terryland in early July, a combination of United’s poor form and a kick off time clashing with a big World Cup fixture led to the lowest attendance at a Galway United in over ten years. Overall, the season was the worst season in terms of attendances for United since 2005.
Star player: Tadhg Ryan.
It’s often a damning indicator of how a team’s season when their goalkeeper over the course of a season and that is the case with United’s year in 2018. A hugely disappointing season for The Tribesmen could’ve been a lot worse if it weren’t for Ryan’s heroics between the sticks keeping them in many games that could’ve been cricket scores.
Best young player: Colin Kelly
Kelly had an explosive season with the Galway United under 17 side scoring 24 goals and leading his side to the play-offs at the end of the season. His form underage level didn’t go unnoticed either as he made his first start for the senior team in United’s last home game of the season against Wexford Youths. Kelly has his penalty well-saved by Wexford’s keeper but was commended for having the nerve to step up and take it on his full debut.
Best new signing: Tadhg Ryan.
Ryan signed from Huddersfield Town, where he had spent four years, in January of the year. Since signing for The Tribesmen he has been a key player, making several key saves in a number of matches. He was also United’s Player of the Year, in my opinion.
What we expected they’d do: Push for promotion.
Ahead of the start of the season, many people had tipped The Tribesmen would finish top of the first division, and most agreed they were a team capable of finishing in at least the play-off places. However, these predictions turned out to be quite off the mark, unfortunately for the United faithful.
What they actually did: Finished 6th.
Coming into this season on the back of a tight relegation due to the restructuring of the league format, United would have been confident of bouncing straight back up. However, after a decent start to the season, United’s season derailed and it turned out to be one to forget.
What they need to improve on for next year:
Where to begin with this United side. First and foremost they need to move quickly to clarify the management situation, they need to either reaffirm Alan Murphy’s position or act quickly in lining up a replacement, or else they’ll be left behind their rivals before the season has even started. The other area that United need to act quickly in is the transfer market, if they don’t move quickly to acquire their top targets or they’ll all be snapped up by rival teams.
Another thing that needs to improve is the attitude of the team. The work ethic of team has been questioned by the fans on a number of occasions and it’s something that will need to improve if The Tribesmen are to mount a promotion challenge next season.
Defensively, United need to tighten up from set-pieces. They conceded far too many goals from set-pieces last season, and some of the defending was borderline comical.
At the other end of the pitch, United’s aspirations for promotion would be greatly bolstered if they were to sign a clinical goal scorer. Ronan Murray was vital to the team in 2017, scoring 17 goals in 38 Premier Division games, and the addition of another star forward could be crucial for United.
Overall, United have a lot to work on in the off-season if they are to get back to where they need to be. Going forward to next season, United will be looking to finish in the play-off spots at a bare minimum.