Athenry setting a good standard in Galway FA premier division says West boss Grant

West United manager William Grant discusses local football

West United manager William Grant believes the Galway FA premier division title will be retained by Athenry.

Seamie Crowe's efficient team have won all eight fixtures so far and are currently joint top with Salthill Devon, who have accumulated 24 points from 10 fixtures.

"It looks a two horse race at this stage and you would have to favour Athenry, who have a 100 per cent record," Grant says.

"Even though they are only eight games through it is still very hard to see them dropping a lot of points.

"Ourselves and Mervue have dropped too many points early on to be getting involved in the race, I think, unless there is a big mess up above us."

Grant praised Athenry's ability to dig out results as being a crucial factor.

"Athenry can win ugly, Salthill can't, Mervue can't, and can't seem to do it," he adds. "When we play well we can beat most teams same as Salthill and Mervue, but Athenry can have an off day, but still win. That is what sets them out from the rest. They can win games when they are having an off day which is vital to win a league."

With four clubs to be relegated it is proving to be a hard fought campaign with Grant encouraged that the standard is beginning to rise again.

"It is very competitive," Grant says. "Personally I think it has improved a bit, but it is nowhere near as good as the late nineties or early noughties, in my opinion. That is my own opinion because a lot of young lads, they are just not coming through for whatever reason.

"I think they get disheartened if they don't make it at League of Ireland level instead of coming back down to give junior a go again. It can be a good standard to get themselves back up. In a lot of the clubs the older players are the better players in the clubs.

"Hibs were unbelievably strong, you had a very strong Renmore, Bohs were strong. Unfortunately Crescent have departed, but they were a very strong side, you had Salthill, Mervue, West, and the emergence of Athenry coming through in the early 2000s. They are still there now."

For West Grant is taking some satisfaction that a number of teenagers are featuring this season.

"We have 11 league games left, our aim is to finish as high as we can," Grant says. "We are looking for a top three finish, get as high as we can, and to have a crack at the Michael Byrne Cup.

"We have blooded some good young lads, young James Egan, 18, Ben Stanik, 18, Gary Higgins, only 18 - three brilliant players. That is the future."


SATURDAY: Maree/Oranmore v Hibernians (2pm ), Mervue United v Corrib Rangers (4pm )

**Listen to the full interview with West United manager William Grant on this week's 'Cian on Sport' podcast available on Soundcloud, Spotify, and Apple Podcasts.


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