Stalemate sinks United's hopes of promotion play-off

In another gutsy display Galway United just could not secure the required victory to secure a promotion play-off after Tuesday’s dramatic SSE Airtricity League of Ireland first division clash against UCD at Eamonn Deacy Park.

Ultimately an exciting encounter culminated in a 2-2 stalemate. United hit the front courtesy of Stephen Christopher before Evan Weir netted a second-half brace for the visitors. Shane Duggan’s last-gasp goal levelled once more, but United, who finished the season with seven wins and a draw from 10 matches, were unable to secure a top five finish.

It hurt that Cabinteely were awarded two points for a game in which they drew with Wexford, who were deemed to have fielded an ineligible player - the subject of an appeal to be heard yesterday - but United manager John Caulfield was not looking for any excuses.

“The only thing is when we took over, nobody gave us a chance. We always felt if we could win eight out of 10 that would be a massive achievement and we might make the play-offs,” Caulfield says.

“We won seven and drew one which was tight. If Cabinteely hadn't got the two points, we'd have been in the play-offs, but that is the way it goes.

“I can't ask any more of the lads. It was their third game in a week, that is tough going. They gave what they had. At the same time, we know we need to improve, there is no getting away from that.”

Caulfield acknowledges that the coming weeks and months will be critical as United plan to launch a serious bid to earn top flight status in the 2021 campaign.

“I will need to talk to all of the guys about the plan,” Caulfield says. “We need a lot of freshness, a lot of energy. We need competitive players too because next year we hope we can be challenging.

“That is what we want to do because the first division is a tough league, but you have to try to get out of it.”

Caulfield is hugely encouraged by the manner in which United concluded the season, accumulating 22 points from a possible 30.

“It was brilliant, it was a great credit to the lads,” Caulfield says. “I think it was a night really if you ever wanted supporters at a match, we needed them - to get behind the team, to encourage them. When it was difficult in the second half, when UCD had a lot of the play, it kept them going.

“At the end of the day the lads have done fantastic, but so close from that position it is disappointing. We knew UCD are a really good side. They move the ball well, they create chances, but we limited them, and we had done well. The first goal was a killer goal.”

United’s failure to net more than one goal when in the ascendancy early on proved costly according to Caulfield.

“On the ground the conditions were deceiving in that the wind was quite strong in the first half,” Caulfield says. “We put UCD under lots of pressure in the first half. We are usually very good from the set plays. We had lots of opportunities, we just missed a few. It was a tight game. They were trying to hit us on the counterattack, Kevin [Horgan] had one save to make in the first half. At half-time we went in one nil up and we probably needed another goal.”

While it ended in pain, the way United have developed in recent months augurs well for the future. And with Caulfield at the helm all sorts of possibilities exist.


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