The Galway United season launch was held at An Pucan in Galway City on Wednesday the 12th of February. Special guests on the night included FAI’s interim deputy chief executive Niall Quinn as well as Galway United manager Alan Murphy who talked to Galway Bay FM about the season ahead.
The confirmation that the First Division will stay as a ten team league and also keep with the original fixture list will come as much wanted news for Alan Murphy. The Galway United manager can now plan for the season ahead with one eye on their first league game against Athlone Town in Eamonn Deacy Park on Friday the 21st of February. When asked about the coming season, Murphy explained to the audience that he was optimistic for their 2020 campaign. He wanted to focus on one “game at a time and to develop as they go”. He was delighted with the “new recruits” they brought in and wanted his team to “hit the ground running with the aim of being competitive”.
Niall Quinn joined Alan Murphy on the stage and was asked about his thoughts on the current FAI situation and also the future for League of Ireland football. Quinn’s first response was that he “considered all 20 League of Ireland clubs as equal” and wanted to do all he could to “help football in Ireland”. He explained that he was “enthralled” by the situation regarding the FAI but “loved the mess that was in there because we can actually do something with it”. Quinn emphasised that his first intention was to set out and “repair, build and restructure”. He expressed his admiration for the League of Ireland and told the audience that he believed “all boats will rise on a high tide” which will bring the league to a better place as it is on top of their priority list.
Quinn explained that he and FAI interim CEO, Gary Owens have had three very long meetings with FAI grassroots members and complemented the staff by stating “there are some fabulous people in there who just need leadership and empowerment to go out and make grassroots better”. Once again, Quinn emphasised that their top priority was the League of Ireland and their idea was to “shape the league so we can bring investment entirely into it”, similar to the money invested by the Comer brothers for Galway United. The positive outcome from the interview was Quinn’s message of wanting “football to win”. Like many, he wants both leagues to start with every team participating and let football be the winner for now even with the ongoing circumstances revolving around the FAI. Alan Murphy described Quinn’s words as “refreshing” to hear, although he knows there are still issues and problems to be dealt with.
Quinn relived his career for the audience and spoke about the highlights of his professional playing days. Of course, he was asked by an audience member about his goal his goal in Italia 90 against the Netherlands. Quinn described the goal as being important to him personally and important for the longevity for his international career. The former Sunderland owner revealed “a lot of people laughed at me when I put some people together to buy the club”. He was proud to say he brought Sunderland back to the Premier League when he was owner of the club, and he ensured the audience that he has the same ambition for the FAI. He was delighted that “the association has now got a different skill set of people in there who are protected at the top level which will allow us to go and invest. That will make everybody feel better and go forward”.
At the end of the evening, Galway United players Mikey Place, Conor Melody, Micheál Schlingermann and Maurice Nugent were interviewed and asked about the season ahead. All four players were looking forward to starting the new campaign. They spoke of their delight about the number of players within the squad which will result in healthy competition for places. Ultimately, the night was a great success for the club and also brought in a large audience. Niall Quinn’s words will certainly bring positivity for Irish football fans around the country. Hopefully this is the start of a rebuilding process for the FAI.