Cork connection will be critical to Galway United's promotion push

Stephen Christopher can't wait for the new First Division season to start
Cork connection will be critical to Galway United's promotion push

Galway United's Cian Murphy and Stephen Christopher celebrate beating Cork City in the FAI Cup in 2019. Picture: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile

UNDER the management of John Caulfield, Stephen Christopher is at Galway United during what could be the start of an exciting era for the club.

Cork native Christopher is someone who has thrived under Caulfield at Galway so far, having scored three goals and contributed plenty of assists in the Tribesmen’s impressive run of form in the second half of the 2020 season.

Speaking to The Echo, the former Cobh Ramblers man is excited about what lies in store at Galway United for 2021, as the club heads into full-time football.

“We had a good finish to last year and hopefully we can continue that form going into 2021,” says Christopher.

“We are all looking forward to getting back and hopefully it will be a good year for us.

“I have been living up in Galway for the last year or so and I am enjoying it up here. The club is very good to us and looks after us well. Obviously going full-time next season is a big draw and we are all looking forward to it.”

Galway were rejuvenated over the latter stages of last term, going from the bottom of the First Division to mounting a late promotion push. The Tribesmen are determined to make a strong push to get back into the Premier Division in 2021.

The fact that many of the first-team squad members at Galway were signed up early in the offseason is an indication of the advanced preparations for the coming season ahead. They are a club intent on getting back to the top flight.

“I would love to be able to get the opportunity to play in the Premier Division with Galway. It has always been an aim of mine to try and play there,” adds Christopher.

I am only loving my time here, so I am hoping this year is going to be a successful one and hoping I can play my part.

“You only have to look at the stadium here, the facilities and the setup. This club needs to be in the Premier Division, that’s what we’re all striving for and hopefully we can go that step further and achieve that goal.”

Those on Leeside are very familiar with the drive and determination Caulfield brings, having won the Premier Division and FAI Cups in his tenure at Cork City.

Joining Caulfield on the Galway coaching staff is someone who he knows from his stint on Leeside in the form of Lisa Fallon and getting a coach of her calibre is a strong statement of intent from the West of Ireland side.

“Being from Cork, I know the success John Caulfield had with Cork City. I used to go out to Turners Cross to watch the City games, so obviously I know he is a big character and probably one of the biggest managers around Ireland,” says Christopher.

“So getting the opportunity to work with him, it is only something we can look forward to and learn from. I enjoyed my football under him towards the end of last season. I am only looking forward to getting back in and seeing how 2021 goes.”

BREAKTHROUGH WITH COBH

Prior to joining Galway, Christopher spent the previous five seasons at Cobh Ramblers, whom he helped reach the EA Sports Cup Final in 2018 and also to a second-placed league finish in the 2017 First Division.

Stephen Christopher in action for Cobh. Picture: David Keane.
Stephen Christopher in action for Cobh. Picture: David Keane.

He knows how competitive the First Division can be in the race for promotion.

But it feels like that race to get into the Premier Division will be more competitive on a way bigger scale next term.

Among the other sides that will seek to challenge for promotion include Shelbourne, Bray Wanderers, Athlone Town, UCD, Cork City and Christopher’s former side Ramblers.

Like many observers of League Of Ireland football, he feels the 2021 First Division will be ultra-competitive.

“I think that is a good thing for the league,” says Christopher. “I think every game is going to be an attractive game to be playing in, the bigger the games the better.

“So I think having all these teams that will want to be there or thereabouts at the end of the season, that will be a good thing for everyone such as fans, players, management.

“It is going to be competitive and all of us in Galway are looking forward to getting going.”

Stephen Christopher is determined to hit the ground running in what he hopes will be a memorable and successful campaign for the Eamonn Deacy Park club for 2021.

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