Wednesday 16 January 2019

Youth row leaves Galway United without training pitch


Shane Keegan Photo: Sportsfile
Shane Keegan Photo: Sportsfile
Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

Galway United are considering moving pre-season preparations to Athlone or Limerick because of a dispute that has left them without a full-size training pitch.

Shane Keegan's preparations for the new campaign have been hindered by a row that ultimately relates to diplomatic tensions in the underage football scene.

In recent seasons, Galway have trained at Fahy's Field - the home of schoolboy side Mervue United. The facility has the only suitable full-size astro pitch in the Galway.

But tensions have grown in the region over the introduction of the new national underage leagues which are restricted to clubs with senior League of Ireland sides.

Galway United have signed a number of promising players from Mervue for their U-15 side and it's understood that the schoolboy nursery are unhappy with how that came about.

They told United representatives that Fahy's Field was not available for use.

That has left Keegan's men in limbo ahead of their First Division promotion challenge.

Poor weather has limited the availability of grass pitches and, while other clubs have offered their smaller-sized astro facilities, the absence of an 11-a-side option has forced Keegan to look outside the county.

"We are probably in a situation where if something isn't sorted in the next 24 hours, Galway United are probably looking at training in Athlone (AIT) or UL in Limerick, the two closest full-sized astros to us," said Keegan.

"The politics in Galway football is causing us havoc."

"I'm stuck for alternatives. It sounds ridiculous," said Keegan, who stressed he did not want to apportion blame. "This is going on for three weeks and I'm out of other ideas.

"Some of the other clubs have been great. People can promise us a pitch but, if I'm going to bed knowing if it rains tonight I've no venue for training in the morning, that's no use."

United re-joined the league in 2014 after two years out of football while Mervue and Salthill Devon fielded senior sides in the League of Ireland First Division.

The reformed entity was originally set up with a board consisting of representatives from the two schoolboy sides, the Galway FA and the Galway United Supporters Trust (GUST). But that partnership disintegrated with GUST now the sole proprietors.

The local FA own Eamonn Deacy Park which is available only for matches.

Last week, League chief Fran Gavin admitted: "It's a different landscape now and people are trying to get used to that. Galway United get a lot of their players from Mervue and Salthill. There's a lot of people with strong opinions and it's going to take a while to bed in."

Irish Independent

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