Paul Mladjenovic- Carlow Town.
How did you become interested in Galway United?
I wasn’t really into football much when I was younger but my Dad would have been very into it. I am from Carlow and my family and I have been coming on holidays to Galway every summer since I can remember. One summer we saw that Galway were playing a Liverpool XI with people like John Barnes etc.. so My Dad and I went to that. It was my first ever football game and I really enjoyed it and we went every summer to see a Galway game. In recent times I have been attending college in NUIG, so I am getting more involved in the club and supporting it recently more than ever. It is great to see them live more often, as I would always support them from Carlow when I was in school there, and now I am living here I try get to as many games as I can. I also brought my sister to one of the games this summer and she fell in love with it too, we are slowly becoming a family of GUFC fans from Carlow.
How did you become interested in football graphic designing?
I saw something on twitter originally with art around football, I thought it looked pretty good so I tried to emulate it myself, and spent all summer on photoshop. I decided to make one of an Irish team, and chose Trevor Clarke of Shamrock Rovers. I tagged the club account etc.. and they got in touch with me about working with them. I worked with Shamrock Rovers with several things such as design, media and bits of marketing and advertising. There I improved a lot and we won some awards recently at the FAI Club Awards a few months ago. Since then I have expanded into a more freelance role, working with other Irish clubs, such as Cork City and of course Galway United, and in England I am currently working with Blackpool F.C.! I do my own personal work to add social media content to the league through creating art and posters for fans. I am trying to give back to the community that inspired me to start designing, ideally I would like to work with the FAI or the SSE Airtricty League, but we will see how that goes in future, hopefully it happens one day! I am trying to help the league improve by doing what I can and I enjoy it greatly, I will try push on this season with the football designs, by improving and working with more Irish clubs with social media and design, exciting times are ahead!
What is it like balancing college work, your graphic designing, and everything else, as well as finding time to come watch United?
It is quite difficult to balance everything nowadays, but for me college always comes first! I do the designing when I have time, and have been focusing on SSE Airtricity League content for the past while and would like to do so for a while. I am working with Blackpool F.C. with design too so it is difficult to find time to relax between college and design. As I am living in Carlow I go home occasionally on Friday evenings which means I have to miss out on the odd GUFC game which is frustrating but it has to be done!
What has been your favourite moments as United fan?
For me one of my favourite moments was Gavan Holohan’s hattrick against Drogheda United in July 2017. Gavan scored three world class goals, and is one of the best performances I have seen live in a Galway jersey. He was outstanding and we really played Drogheda off the park that game. Since then Gavan has been one of my favourite players in the league.
What are your worst memories as a United fan?
For me it has to be relegation two seasons ago, we started off strongly and were pulling in fantastic crowds for every home game, and during the summer had a great run of games and were getting results against big teams- such as halting Cork’s unbeaten run. That season had so much potential and to see us get relegated after such a good run of games was really frustrating.
What do United need to improve on most from last season?
I feel this season we need to improve defensively. Last season I originally thought that scoring goals would be a problem, but of course Conor Barry stood up to that, and with introduction of Vinny back in the team I feel that up front we have a good mixture of play styles that compliment each other greatly. Defensively is where we struggled last season, for example conceding 4 at home to Longford wasn’t the best result, but after watching our recent friendly with Shamrock Rovers at Drom, I feel that Alan Murphy has done a great job of bringing these players together defending as a unit, rather than individually, which I think will help us improve this season, as they kept an almost full strength Shamrock Rovers team relatively quiet. So hopefully we see improvements in defensive capabilities because for me this is the most important part of any succesful team as it provides a staple foundation to build from.
Who are the best away fans you have seen at EDP?
The best away fans I have seen at EDP has to be Shamrock Rovers, they are one of the most supported clubs in Ireland, and they always seem to do well against us, particularly when they have Gary Shaw, who always seems to score against us! They are always lively and bring a lot of fans who are always vocal and add a lot of atmosphere!
What is your favourite away ground?
For me it is Tallaght Stadium, I haven’t been to too many unfortunately but I would like to venture more this season. Tallaght Stadium for me is by far the best stadium in the two divisions, and with the introduction of the third stand (possibly 4th too) and the modern look and facilities too really give the stadium an edge over the others. Along with that Tallaght Stadium offers a fantastic atmosphere provided by the SRFC Ultras I mentioned previously.
Which signing has impressed you so far?
Wilson Waweru has impressed me so far, he is a young and exciting player who is skillful yet can also hold his own physically. He isn’t afraid to run at players which is always a positive, although he is young there is always room for improvement, looking at his performances thus far I think he can make an impact this season!
What are your predictions for the coming season?
I feel we will push on a little further than last year. I would like to think that we will play better defensively with a bit of flair up front, our squad is young, this gives us a few advantages and disadvantages. A few positives being that we should play fast exciting football as these younger academy graduates aren’t afraid to make an impression and are skillful, a lot of these players have been coming through the ranks together and know eachother’s tendencies. Along with this Alan Murphy knowing the players since underage will help with team cohesion a lot. I feel we can push on this season because of this and try our best to push for a play off position, and maybe get 4th place in the league this year. I think our top scorer will be Conor Barry again this season, but Vinny with his wealth of experience will give him a run for his money, but I feel Vinny will play a more supportive role this season as we lack physical presences, like Vinny who can hold up the ball and bring other players such as Conor Barry into play. There are a few players who could potentially get player of the year, it is quite early to judge, but if Conor Barry keeps up his performances from last season he is on track to win it! Hopefully we see some free fluid attacking football this season while also defending together as a cohesive unit. I am optimistic for the season as the squad is young but with some experiences faces such as Vinny, Walsh, Ludden etc.. hopefully we can make an impact this season in the league.
What are you looking forward to most when the season restarts?
I am looking forward to the season as I support GUFC from the stands of Eamonn Deacy, and am looking forward to contributing towards the club off the pitch too with design and social media etc… and by the looks of it I will be designing the programme covers this season for Maroon View, so that will be exciting!