Disappointing defeat ends United’s promotion hopes

With a sold out Eamonn Deacy Park crowd providing the backdrop, Galway United’s SSE Airtricity League season was terminated by a gorgeous Brandon Kavanagh goal for Bray Wanderers on Sunday.

A gruelling promotion play-off semi-final was decided by Kavanagh’s flash of class as Gary Cronin’s outfit prevailed on the banks of the Corrib.

It was a significant blow for John Caulfield’s charges, who were unable to restore parity with Bray defending with admirable resistance. “Someone said that this was the biggest crowd since the League Cup final six or seven years ago which shows the club has come a long way,” Caulfield says.

“We are disappointed with the result. The two games in the play-offs are cup finals, there hasn't been a kick of the ball between ourselves and Bray in the last 12 months. To be fair, Brandon Kavanagh, who probably was the standout player for them, got an unbelievable goal.”

Caulfield accepted that United were not sufficiently clinical during the 180 minutes against Bray. “Over the two games it was their only shot on target,” he added. “Ultimately in front of goal in the two games we didn't score, we had chances. We couldn't ask anymore of the guys.

“I thought we started the game well, we had a few half chances, the goal knocked us a bit. Obviously Wilson [Waweru] hitting the crossbar. In the second half we threw everything at them. Sometimes you hold your hand up, congratulate Bray, we did them last year in the play-offs, they did us this year. They probably deserved to win last year and certainly we deserved to win this year, but if you don't put the ball in the back of the net that is the way it is.”

The United manager acknowledged the fact that a meaningful connection has been forged with the local football community. “The support was outstanding, the noise from the terraces and stands was fantastic,” Caulfield responded.

“You can see there are new supporters coming to Galway United, a lot of families, that is what we need to build on. The only difference between this year and next year, at least going into pre-season we will have a number of the lads that are here.

“Despite what was said we had 14 new players come into the club, we had a brand new team. Hopefully that will stand to us next year, this division is a real dogfight.”

Already thoughts have switched to the 2022 campaign which will commence in February with Caulfield hopeful United can launch a title bid. “It is the only way to guarantee to get out of it,” he says. “Once it goes into the knockouts it is cup final football. Then you have a night when you're off form which can happen.

“Over the two games I wouldn't say we were off form, but in front of goal we were off form. We didn't get the goals. We have to reassess, meet the lads, see who will be here for next year, who won't be here. This division with one up when you have teams like Longford coming down, Cork City, UCD or Bray are going to be there, Treaty. If you can win the division it is easier for the manager.”

Despite the defeat Caulfield remains optimistic that United can progress as a club with the U14 league final victory on Saturday over Shamrock Rovers illustrating what can be achieved.

“I would be positive, you look at where we are as a club, we have been down in the bottom half for a number of years, we haven't competed,” he adds. “You look at the U14s, who had a phenomenal win. We have a lot of young talent coming through. Certainly there is a buzz around the club, I sense it around the city and county when I meet people.

“I sense there is a lot of work going on in the Academy with Johnny Glynn and the coaches. There has been an awful lot of work done with a lot of structures being put in place. Of course the lads are gutted, we are very disappointed, but at the same time I think there is a lot of positives. I feel as a club we are going in the right way, but ultimately at the end of the day you want to see can you get out of the first division. That is the challenge for us next season.”


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