Shane Keegan could be the key to revitalising Galway United

Over the course of the next month there will be plenty to talk about in the League of Ireland.

Dundalk FC and Cork City will battle it out for both the league title and the FAI Cup, while Shamrock Rovers and Derry City will look to cement European places for themselves for next season.

At the other end of the table, there is a relegation battle still being fought with the dreaded promotion/relegation match still to come.

For a handful of clubs their season is largely petering out at the moment though with the bulk of attention over the next few weeks set to be on preparing for next season.

Players who have done well this year will be tied down, new targets identified and budgets set out.

Of course, for one club in particular the planning can only really begin when a new manager is appointed.

With games still to come this month against both Cork City at home this weekend and away to Dundalk on the closing day, Galway Utd could have a huge say in the destination of this year’s title.

Already this season The Tribesmen have taken points off both of the title challengers and while the prospect of doing so again will provide some interest for their supporters, their real challenge over the next few weeks will be in appointing a new manager. Until then it’s hard to truly look ahead.

With the club having parted ways with Tommy Dunne recently, the timing told you a lot about the club’s ambitions. Having secured their status in the Premier Division last year, they perhaps wanted to kick on more than they did this year.

With plenty to be decided this month, there is no fear of Galway getting relegated but equally no chance of them pushing for a place in Europe either. In some quarters that has been viewed as a disappointment.

Dunne did a fine job at Galway but the club’s board, rightly or wrongly, believe they can do more.

Certainly it is a club with a lot to offer.

Galway is a brilliant place to live, Eamon Deacy Park is amongst the better grounds in the league and there is a huge catchment area to get supporters through the turnstiles if performances improve.

As one of the country’s major cities, the League of Ireland would also benefit hugely from a strong Galway team.

Just as has been seen with the example of Stephen Kenny at Dundalk, however, you need right person to bring everything together.

As with any job that becomes available in the League of Ireland, the usual names are trotted out but here at LeagueofIreland.ie we feel the Tribesmen could benefit from the appointment of an up-and-coming chief.

Indeed, we feel current Wexford Youths boss Shane Keegan may be just the man for the job.

Wexford might be battling for their Premier Division survival in the next few weeks but that shouldn’t take away from the stellar job that Keegan has done there.

To bring a side with virtually no budget up and to keep them there would be a phenomenal achievement. The fact that five of his squad have departed this week for New Zealand with just over three weeks of the season to go shows the kind of issues Keegan has to deal with.

Like Stephen Kenny, he is young, hungry and conjures up complete trust from his players. He has fulfilled virtually every role at Ferrycarrig Park in his time there and would benefit from operating at a higher level with a larger support team around him.

The recently reformed Galway Utd are an amalgamation of Salthill Devon, Mervue Utd and the Galway Football Association it must be remembered and this is reflected by the crests of each of the county’s junior clubs on the wall as you enter Eamon Deacy Park.

This community element must be enhanced by whoever the new appointment is and Keegan could be the man to do that.

In his time at Wexford he has experience from working with and nurturing along young talent. Imagine what he could do if he had a few experienced campaigners to help those young players along.

It is a source of pride but also a little envy in Galway to see their county men Stephen O’Donnell and Daryl Horgan doing so well in Europe with the likes of Dundalk. Pat Hoban is another who prospered in the east having been brought up in the west.

This is not just a recent phenomenon. David Forde was better known for his time at Derry City than with Galway, likewise Alan Keane who won countless honours further up the west coast with Sligo Rovers.

Add to that Ryan Manning, now with QPR, and you get an idea of the sort of talent Galway can produce.

Keegan, who is still the youngest manager in the league, has consistently punched above his weight at Wexford. Indeed, without trying to overly compare the two, it would almost remind you of the job Stephen Kenny did at Longford Town back in the late 1990s.

In 140 matches in charge he has a win ratio of 42.1%, with 42.9% losses and 15% draws.

You can only wonder would he could achieve with some sort of budget behind him and the right project in place.

As a UEFA Pro Licence holder he is ready to make that step up. A club just needs to take a chance on him.

Galway is known as the City of the Tribes and Keegan could be key to bringing all the different parts together to give the city a team it can be proud of.

Maybe then Galway will be in the mix come the business end of the season and competing for the sort of honours their supporters crave.

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