United are two wins away from premier division return

Another SSE Airtricity League first division promotion play-off beckons for Galway United, who face Longford Town at the UCD Bowl tomorrow evening (7.45pm ).

Last Thursday the FAI announced the decision of the Independent Arbitrator who ruled that the results on the field of play in Wexford’s four games involving a player subsequently deemed ineligible would stand. Ultimately it meant United finished ahead of Cabinteely, who lost the two points they had been awarded following a draw with Wexford, ensuring John Caulfield’s charges secured a crucial match away to Bray Wanderers on Saturday.

That fixture at the Carlisle Grounds concluded with a late Wilson Waweru goal guiding United to the next stage against Longford, who enjoyed a dramatic triumph over UCD.

Caulfield is thrilled by the manner in which United’s players continue to battle claiming an eighth league win in 11 matches.

“The guys have been incredible. I said it from the start when I came in eleven weeks ago, I thought there was a group here that lacked a bit of self belief and confidence,” Caulfield says.

“We got the management together and we put a plan in place to work the lads, with a view to next season. They’ve been unreal since. We saw the potential and we’re delighted that we’re starting to unlock it, even though we’re probably only scratching the surface at the moment, because we think there’s huge talent within the club.”

Significant challenges have been met throughout the past couple of months with Caulfield hugely encouraged.

“Every game since we’ve come in has nearly been a cup final because we’ve had to win them to have any chance of reaching the play-offs,” Caulfield comments.

“The players have been hit with all sorts of scenarios that could’ve knocked any team off. We won in Longford, then we were hit with Covid for two weeks. We couldn’t meet up for 14 days, then we’re hit with three games in just a week.

“We were devastated after UCD the other day because one of the other teams that we were chasing were given two points, which no one expected.

“Then Wexford were vindicated, and on Thursday we’re informed that we’re back in after thinking we’re out. These guys have made no excuses, they’ve just got on with it. It’s been three wins and a draw in 11 days and I just admire them for that and their response has been fantastic.”

Now United will face Longford, who they beat in the midlands by 6-2 at the start of last month. That was an achievement for United, but the midlanders’ squad is also stocked with promising players.

“When I came in first, I had a view of trying to unleash the potential within the club. The management has worked incredibly hard, but the players have been out of this world,” Caulfield says.

“We were looking for performances in the last 10 games, to see where we could get to, but obviously when we got four or five wins, it became clear we could get to the play-offs.

“We’ve had a few hiccups, but the response from the players has been unreal. We’ve scored lots of great goals, we’ve been exciting, created chances, and we’ve played some fantastic football.

“There’s been days like Bray, where the conditions have been difficult and we had to dig in – and we did that in the first half, but in the second half, we were very good. We have a few days to recover now. That gives us a few days to get ready to have another go.”

The winner of tomorrow's final play-off will face the team that finishes second from bottom of the premier division, currently Finn Harps.


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