United primed for late play-off push after break for Covid cases

Following six wins in seven SSE Airtricity League first division games, Galway United are primed to make a late push for a play-off position. A number of Covid cases in the club stopped activity for a two-week period, but United now make a welcome return to action at Eamonn Deacy Park next Tuesday evening when hosting Drogheda United.

It is the start of a hectic spell for John Caulfield's rapidly improving outfit, who subsequently travel to the Carlisle Grounds the following Saturday, October 24, for a clash with Bray Wanderers. United's regulation season concludes on Tuesday October 27 when UCD visit the west, but Caulfield will be hoping that further matches can be secured by accumulating a healthy total of points.

Throughout the past couple of months United's attitude and application has been evident, illustrated by the smashing 6-2 success over Longford Town at Bishopsgate before the enforced break.

Caulfield says the players were disappointed with the enforced break after recording such a good win against Longford Town. “It's a disruption, but we have to adhere to the guidelines set out by the HSE and we will. From my side, I'm just looking to get the players back on the training ground as soon as the HSE permits us to. "We have another big game to look forward to against Drogheda United next week, and we will be prepared for that."

The past fortnight, though, has been an exacting time, he says. "We had a small number of players who tested positive for Covid-19. Our designated Covid-19 officers at the club dealt with the situation brilliantly. They reacted quickly to the news and training has been shut down completely. Everything has been, and is being done, to the letter of the law.

“Every player and staff member has been tested twice and they have been isolating, as per HSE guidelines. No player has had to go into hospital for treatment, the players who tested positive exhibited mild symptoms and they're now recovering well and isolating.”

At the start of Caulfield’s tenure there were encouraging signs, despite a disappointing FAI Cup loss to Shelbourne. Since then United have enjoyed a productive stint with wins over Athlone Town, UCD, Shamrock Rovers II, Wexford, Cabinteely, and Longford. The only setback was when an understrength United were caught out by Cobh Ramblers on September 25. Still in a 29 day period United registered 18 out of a possible 21 points thundering into the play-off race.

Tomorrow's tussle involving UCD and Cabinteely in Belfield has implications for United, while Saturday's clash between Longford and Cobh will also be monitored with interest.

Caulfield, who has made an impression in a couple of action-packed months, will demand a typically passionate performance. Ultimately, the drive and desire demonstrated in this recent United burst owes much to sheer hard graft. The way United have coped with setbacks, including Kevin Farragher's emigration to the United Kingdom, and a string of injuries and suspensions bodes well for the future.

Caulfield has repeatedly stated the long term vision and objectives, but the former Cork City chief is also wants United to deliver in 2020 too. A remarkable year has unfolded in so many ways, but United have battled. Such resilience will be necessary in the eagerly anticipated Corribside fixture with Drogheda.


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