Cumann Peile Ghaillimh Aontaithe / Galway United Football Club
- City: Galway, County Galway / Gaillimh, Contae na Gaillimhe
- Founded: 1937
- Ground: Eamonn Deacy Park (5,001)
- Nicknames: The Tribesmen; United
- Colours: All maroon kit with gold and sky blue trim.
- 2023 League: League of Ireland First Division
- Club Website: https://galwayunitedfc.ie/
- Club Twitter: @GalwayUnitedFC
- Club Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/GalwayUnitedFC
- Club Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/galwayunitedfc/
- Best League Finish: 2nd in the League of Ireland Premier Division (1985-86)
- Best FAI Cup Finish: Winners (1990-91)
- FAI Cup
- Winners (1): 1990–91
- League of Ireland Cup
- Winners (2): 1985–86, 1996–97
- League of Ireland First Division
- Champions (1): 1992–93
- League of Ireland First Division Shield
- Winners (2): 1992–93, 1996–97
- Connacht Senior League
- Winners (3): 1984–85, 1985–86, 1987–88
- Connacht Senior Cup
- Winners (3): 1984–85, 1995–96, 2007–08
- Connacht Senior League Challenge Cup
- Winners (1): 1998–99
- Connacht Junior Cup
- Winners (1): 1957–58
Galway United Football Club / Cumann Peile Ghaillimh Aontaithe is an Irish team that currently plays in the League of Ireland First Division, the second tier in the Republic of Ireland’s football pyramid. They are based in the Connacht city of Galway / Gaillimh, situated in the county of the same name, which is Ireland’s sixth most populous city with a population of approximately 84k. The “City of the Tribes / Cathair na dTreabh“, named because of the fourteen merchant families called the “tribes of Galway” who led the city in its Hiberno-Norman period, is located on the mid-western coast of Ireland just below the Connacht peninsula. Galway lies on the River Corrib / Abhainn na Gaillimhe between Lough Corrib and Galway Bay, and it is a tourist destination known for its festivals and events, such as the Galway Arts Festival. So much so, Galway was named the European Capital of Culture (alongside Rijeka in Croatia) in 2020.
Galway United currently play its home games at the 5,001-capacity, 3,300-seater Eamonn Deacy Park / Páirc Éamonn Uí Dhéisigh which is found in the northern district of Terryland, near the River Corrib and Jordans Island. Constructed in 1935 and originally called Terryland Park, the ground is named in memory of former Galway United, Aston Villa, and Irish international left-back Eamonn Deacy who passed away in February 2012. It has been the permanent home of the Tribesmen since their League of Ireland debut in the 1977-78 season.
There are records of football being played in the city as far back as 1898, but the origins of the current Galway club start in 1937 when Galway Rovers were founded in the Claddagh district of Galway. For the first forty years of its existence, the club competed in the Western League / Connacht Senior League, and managed to claim their first piece of silverware in 1958 when they won the Connacht Junior Cup. It wouldn’t be until 1977 when Galway Rovers were invited to become members of the League of Ireland. The debutantes finished in fifteen position in their inaugural season, with the legendary Eamonn Deacy scoring the club’s first LoI goal in October – the club shockingly only scored 16 goals in 30 games that season!
The performances of the club started to improve throughout the 1980s, with Galway Rovers reaching their first cup final when they played in the League of Ireland Cup final. Sadly, following two goalless legs, Galway failed to lift the trophy after losing 2-3 on penalties to Dundalk. For the 1981-82 season, the club changed its name to Galway United, and performances continued to improve under the new monicker. They reached their first FAI Cup final in 1985 but lost 0-1 to Shamrock Rovers, however, they returned to another cup final in the following year, this time being successful in the League of Ireland Cup by defeating Dundalk 2-0 to win their first major trophy in Irish football. The 1985-86 season proved to be the club’s best season as not only were they the league cup winners, but they achieved their best league finish of second place, finishing just two points behind champions Shamrock Rovers in the first season of the League of Ireland Premier Division. They also managed to compete in Europe during the mid-1980s, firstly qualifying for the 1985-86 Cup Winners’ Cup as cup finalists, and then the UEFA Cup the following season after their runners-up league finish. Alas, on both occasions, Galway lost both legs of the tie, losing to Danish side Lyngby in 1985 and Dutch side Groningen in 1986 respectively.
Galway United finally managed to win their first (and only to date) FAI Cup when they defeated Shamrock Rovers 1-0 in the 1991 showpiece event, qualifying them for the Cup Winners’ Cup once again. Sadly, the club suffered another two defeats over two legs to Danish opposition, this time losing 0-7 on aggregate to Odense – that was their last appearance in European competition to date. Unfortunately, the following season after the cup victory, Galway United suffered their first relegation since becoming a member of the League of Ireland when they finished bottom of the 1991-92 table to drop to the LoI First Division. For the remainder of the decade, the club fluctuated between the two leagues with periods of success dotted in between. In 1992-93, the club swiftly returned to the top flight as First Division champions and First Division Shield winners, before finishing the 1993-94 season in a respectable third place in the Premier Division. Following a second relegation in 1996, the club lifted the First Division Shield in 1997 as well as their second League of Ireland Cup when they defeated Cork City 4-2 on aggregate.
The 21st century hasn’t been the most kind of periods to Galway United with the club spending the majority of the 2000s competing in the First Division, with two other Galway-based teams, Mervue United and Salthill Devon joining them in the League of Ireland. Unfortunately by the start of the 2010s, financial problems and excessive debts resulted in the club withdrawing from the League of Ireland in 2011. Nonetheless, following a report done by the FAI, it was recommended that Galway City and County Galway should be represented in the LoI by just a single team, and so, following the conclusion of the 2013 season, both Mervue United and Salthill Devon withdrew from the LoI to make way for a new team called Galway FC, which made its debut in the First Division in 2014. Galway’s debut season was a successful one as it finished in third position in the league and qualified for the end-of-season promotion-relegation playoffs. They managed to defeat Shelbourne 4-1 on aggregate before defeating Premier Division side UCD 5-1 in the playoff final to earn promotion to the Premier Division on their first attempt.
Galway FC was renamed back to Galway United in 2015, and had a chance to add further silverware to the history of the club when they reached the final of the League of Ireland Cup. Unfortunately, they were unable to record a record third league cup victory losing out on a penalty shootout to St Patrick’s Athletic following a goalless 120 minutes. The club played in the top flight for three seasons before a 3-4 defeat to Dundalk in the final game of the 2017 season sent the club back down to the First Division. The 2023 schedule is Galway’s sixth consecutive season in the second tier after having failed in the end-of-season playoffs in the past three years. Last year, Galway United finished in third place in the First Division and overcome Longford Town 5-2 in the playoff semi-finals, but lost to Waterford 0-3 in the final to confirm yet another season in the second tier. Although, considering their blistering start to the 2023 campaign where they won their first eleven league games, Galway United look in a strong position to finally return back to the Premier Division in 2024.
To talk about the one-time FAI Cup-winning, Connacht-based side who have had an eventful recent history but look set to be returning back to the League of Ireland Premier Division this season, we spoke to the excellent Julian Canny, who is an ardent Galway United supporter. To find out more about Julian, you can find his social media accounts in the links below:
- Twitter: @juliancanny
Q. Firstly, how did you decide to start following and supporting Galway United?
I’m from Galway and was brought by my Dad, who was friends with one of the players, to games when I was 9 years old. I’ve followed them ever since. In Ireland, Gaelic Football and Hurling would both be very strong in Galway but, for whatever reason, I decided to follow Galway United!
Q. From your time following the club, who has been your favourite player, and the reasoning behind your choice?
A really strange answer to this question – my favourite player only actually played 18 times for the club and isn’t actually a local player.
Forward Anto Flood joined the club in 2010 from Shelbourne. He was a proper old-school Dubliner! Often when “outsiders” come in they’re looked at as someone coming to the club for a quick buck, but the commitment ‘Bisto‘ gave was unbelievable. He scored 9 times in those 18 games before being signed by Örebro SK in Sweden. Unfortunately, he broke his leg in his third game there but came back to Irish football and scored the League-winning goal for St Patrick’s Athletic in 2013.
Q. Of the current squad, who would you say is the best player at the club and why?
Last season we had a 17-year-old defender called Alex Murphy but he was snapped up by Newcastle United and has captained their u23s a couple of times this season. Ronan Manning [23-year-old attacking midfielder] is our most talented player at the moment, he’s the younger brother of Swansea City’s Ryan Manning [26-year-old left-back/midfielder], who is also an ex-player [playing for the club between 2014 and 2015].
Q. Who would you say is the most exciting up & coming talent at the club?
Manning is only 22 but from the academy players, I would say Mikey McCullagh [18-year-old attacking midfielder/forward] and Adam O’Halloran [17-year-old midfielder] look to be good prospects. Both made their first team debuts at the end of last season.
Q. Who would you regard as Galway’s biggest or historical rivals?
Again, there’s a bit of debate around this. I would regard Athlone Town as our biggest rivals. When I first started following the club, there were a lot of shared players from season to season. Some fans would regard Sligo Rovers as our rivals too – they’re in the same province [Connacht], but Athlone is closer.
Q. What would you say has been the best game, result, or performance from your time following the club,?
Just recently, on the 12th of May, it was the 32nd anniversary of our only FAI Cup win – beating Shamrock Rovers 1-0 in the final – and we’ve never won the league, so that has to be our greatest victory!
Q. What do you think of the situation in Irish league football currently? Are there any improvements you would like to see happen?
In the last couple of years, since the COVID pandemic, there has been a huge rise in attendances; pretty much up 100% since the 2018 season. The problem now is that because many of the stadia are old and dilapidated (ours is one of the best stadiums in the league) some grounds are hitting their maximum capacity and some just need to be rebuilt.
Q. How would you describe the current performance or state of the club? How do you think this season has gone so far?
We won our opening 11 games of the season before losing to Longford Town, a few days later we beat second-placed Waterford, and have won 14 of our first 15 league games so we’re 10 points clear (at the time of writing) and look almost certain of promotion back to the top-flight since 2017. Some local businessmen have been investing in the club for the past few years to bring us to this position and the hope would be to establish ourselves as a strong Premier Division side within a number of years.
Q. What are the best and worst things about being a fan of the club?
The worst is definitely the complete lack of success… Since joining the league in the late 1970s we have won the FAI Cup once and League of Ireland Cup twice and that’s it!
The best is the camaraderie among the fans and players, and that dream that one day we might actually become successful!
Q. Finally, what are your hopes for the future of Galway United?
As I said previously, promotion is the short-term aim but I would absolutely LOVE to see the club play in Europe again. The last time was in 1991 after that FAI Cup win. I like to joke that we have a 100% record in Europe… We have been in Europe three times, played six matches, and lost the whole lot of them!
I would travel literally anywhere to watch us play in Europe! Even if we played in a war-torn region – I’d be there!
A massive thank you to Julian for answering our questions on the League of Ireland First Division side Galway United. Remember you can find his social media accounts in the links towards the top of the blogpage.
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