Transfer speculation provides solitary off-season fare for United fans

Patrick Hickey, impressed against United last season

Patrick Hickey, impressed against United last season

It is a long off-season for League of Ireland fans. The excitement generated by promotion has made it even longer for Galway United supporters. They will have gone 17 weeks without competitive action by the time the new Premier Division season kicks off at home to St. Patrick’s Athletic on February 16.

Transfer talk is what sustains the soul in this barren period. United’s principal achievement in a difficult market has been to retain the services of key performers from the 2023 campaign. David Hurley, Ed McCarthy and Killian Brouder amongst others would not have been short of offers after stellar campaigns.

There have been three significant additions also. Garry Buckley signs from Sligo Rovers, reuniting with his former manager John Caulfield after their league and cup successes with Cork City. The defender brings vast Premier Division experience as well as versatility, capable of operating in defence or in midfield.

Similarly adaptable is American Patrick Hickey who comes west after a couple of seasons with Athlone. The 6’ 6” Illnois native will add considerable size and strength to his new side. Having operated in midfield upon his arrival, Hickey spent the majority of last season at the back and impressed in his games against United.

Another to catch the eye as an opponent last season was Leo Gaxha, who makes the move from Kerry. Despite his side’s struggles, Gaxha netted seven times last season and impressed with his tricky footwork. He brings a strong pedigree with him, having previously enjoyed a spell with Sheffield United and being capped at underage level for Ireland.

A current underage international has also put pen to paper with United. Renowned young talent Kyle Fitzgerald has signed his first professional contract with the club. Widely regarded as the academy’s brightest prospect since the departure of Alex Murphy, Fitzgerald is an exciting attacker. Despite his tender years, turning 17 later this month, he will be pressing for an opportunity to display his undoubted talent at the very highest level in the country.

There are strong foundations and some excitement in these retentions and signings. As is traditional at this time of year, there are also murmurings of some foreign imports to bolster the ranks. However, there remains a need for more additions before the campaign kicks-off. John Caulfield and Ollie Horgan distinguished themselves with their shrewd signings in 2023. They will be hopeful for another couple of telling bits of business in the coming weeks.

United fans will be keen to get a steer on the shape of the squad from the pre-season games. It is traditional that Premier Division teams would find their opposition for these games against First Division teams. The official League of Ireland Connect Service has fixtures scheduled for United on January 18 away to Kerry FC and at home to Wexford on February 9.

The Terryland lights will beckon soon enough.


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