LIBERATING FOOTBALL TRAVEL

Galway United

Honouring the heritage of hero Villan, Eamonn Deacy

A fan’s guide – the club from early doors to today

Reformed in 2013, renamed in 2014, Galway United can trace their roots back to 1937 – and Galway Rovers.

Based at Terryland Park – today’s Eamonn Deacy Park – Rovers only joined the League of Ireland 40 years later. Fittingly, Deacy, later an Irish international and title winner with Aston Villa, scored the first senior league goal there.

Rovers only began challenging for honours after a name change to United in 1981. This golden period was capped by the FAI Cup win of 1991, with Deacy back in the fold.

Player-manager John Herrick, a former Irish international with 15 years of experience behind him when he arrived at Terryland Park in 1979, helped steady Galway’s early years as a League of Ireland club.

Eamonn Deacy Park/Paul Corcoran

Tom Lally and Tony Mannion then took The Tribesmen to an FAI Cup final in 1985, a 1-0 defeat to Shamrock Rovers, and runners-up spot in the league a year later, again Rovers superior. The season was decided on the head-to-head clash at Terryland Park in March 1986. Galway had been unbeaten in 16 games but The Hoops were on a four-title roll, and put three past The Tribesmen in just over half-an-hour.

Galway did manage to win the League of Ireland Cup, a 2-0 win over Dundalk, with goals from much-travelled former Irish international Paul McGee and Denis Bonner, brother of Packie, of Italia ’90 fame.

Galway were by no means disgraced when making their European debut against Lyngby, the Danes winning by the odd goal in each leg. Groningen made easy work of Galway the following year, though, winning 8-2 on aggregate.

A League Cup winner in 1986, Galwegian striker Johnny Glynn returned to Galway to join a promising team under player-manager Joey Malone, hired in 1990-91. Though inconsistent in the league, United won through to the FAI Cup final, where man-of-the-match Tommy Keane provided the inch-perfect cross for a late Glynn goal to sink Shamrock Rovers. On the bench that day was Eamonn Deacy, who had played his last league game for Galway that March.

Eamonn Deacy Park/Paul Corcoran

After Keane’s transfer to Sligo, United slipped back, tonked by Odense in Europe then relegated.

Bouncing straight back up under Tony Mannion, Galway made third spot in 1994 but were soon second-tier bound. A redeveloped Terryland Park, now equipped with floodlights, would have at last been able to host European football – but it wasn’t to be.

Not even United stalwart Stephen Lally, a player who had lived through all the club’s triumphs and relegations from the early 1980s, could lift the side when hired as manager in 2006. Even more ominously, around the same time, disgraced banker Nick Leeson became involved with the club.

As two other local sides, Mervue United and Salthill Devon, joined the short-lived third flight A Championship, then second tier, Galway United staggered on amid mounting debts. Despite the efforts of the Galway United Supporters Trust, the senior team folded.

Eamonn Deacy Park/Paul Corcoran

As Mervue United moved in and moved up the First Division table to knock on the door of the Premier, plans were afoot to revive a single, flagship club: Galway FC. For Mervue, the move was particularly bitter, the team having clambered its way to a promotion play-off place that autumn of 2013.

Three months later, while Mervue and Salthill prepared for life in the local league, Galway FC started out in the second-tier First Division. Moving back into the now renamed Eamonn Deacy Park, they brought in manager Tommy Dunne and a bright young midfielder from Sligo, Ryan Connolly. 

Player of the Season as Galway finished third in their debut campaign, Connolly opened the scoring in both legs of the initial promotion play-off against Shelbourne, nearly 1,800 squeezed into Eamonn Deacy Park. The crowd was nearer 3,000 for the visit of UCD in the subsequent Premier v First play-off clash, Alex Byrne rounding out a 3-0 win on the night with a memorable solo goal.

Back in the top flight after the dreadful farewell of 2011, the now renamed Galway United kept Connolly in the ranks but found the Premier tough going. After another struggle in 2016, Dunne was dismissed and 34-year-old Shane Keegan brought in.

ground Guide

The field of dreams – and the stands around it

Home of soccer in Galway since the 1930s, the former Terryland Park is very much a community resource. Owned by the Galway Football Association, who bought it in 1950, today’s Eamonn Deacy Park features one of the finest club pitches in Ireland despite is use by a host of local teams as well as Galway United.

Flanked by two stands, the main all-seated one of 1,500 capacity, complemented by 1,800 seats opposite, the ground can hold up to 5,000, with standing areas behind each goal.

Visiting supporters occupy the Scoreboard End sectors of the North Stand with their own ticket office and turnstiles.

getting there

Going to the ground – tips and timings

The ground is a 25min walk from town via Dyke Road. From stop 2 on Eyre Square, the 407 bus runs half-hourly/hourly eve to the Menlo Park Hotel (Coolough Road stop). From there, it’s still a 10min walk, but it’s handy for the hotel bar, even post-match – services back to Eyre Square run past 11pm.

A taxi from Eyre Square should be €8.

getting in

Buying tickets – when, where, how and how much

Advance tickets are available online at Ticketmaster and during the day of the match from the office on Dyke Road.

On match nights, turnstiles open here and, for away fans, at the north-east corner of the ground.

Admission is €15, €10 for seniors, students and unwaged (ID required), €5 for under-12s.

what to buy

Shirts, kits, merchandise and gifts

Near the ticket window, a club shop on Dyke Road opens on match nights, selling bobble hats (remember those?), scarves, pin badges and replica tops, home (maroon), away (white) and third-choice (black).

Where to Drink

Pre-match beers for fans and casual visitors

With the ground way up on Galway’s north outskirts, near a retail park, there’s little by way of pubs and bars. Hotels within a reasonable walking distance, such as the Menlo Park and Nox (see Galway, Where to sleep) compensate with bars open to non-guests.

Two venues on Woodquay at the northern edge of the city centre serve as pre-match pitstops. Formerly The Goalpost and a more downbeat spot for sports fans, The Caribou is now all craft brews and funky furniture. Nearby McSwiggan’s runs a decent restaurant and serves affordable Guinness.

Key place in town is United sponsors The Dáil Bar in Middle Street, with memorabilia on display and football on TV. There’s regular live music, DJs at weekends and a full menu. Players and management are known to drop in for meet-the-fans evenings.