Galway opt for Suffolk over Spain

THEY could have gone to sunny Spain like most clubs do, but Galway United preferred the Suffolk solitude for their pre-season training.

Derek Davis

THEY could have gone to sunny Spain like most clubs do, but Galway United preferred the Suffolk solitude for their pre-season training.

The Irish Premier League side have been 'enjoying' double sessions and played a behind closed doors friendly against a Blues XI and learnt a bit more in readiness to their season which starts two weeks tomorrow night against Bohemians.

Tony Cousin's side lost 2-1 even though they went ahead through Mark Leech. Jordan Rhodes, with his 30th goal of the season, equalised from the penalty spot and Jack Ainsley finished a good move well to give Town the win.

The result was of no significance and Cousins was pleased enough with what they are getting out of the week.

He said: “We went to Spain last year and we got a couple of games in but this year Jim asked if we wanted to come to Ipswich and use the facilities. You won't get any better than what is here so for us it was a great opportunity.

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“It is a different environment for the players and they can also see how it is done by a top Championship club.

“They sometimes feel hard done by when they are asked to train twice a day but they see here that Ipswich players don't knock off at 12.30pm and go home. They are back working on their game in the afternoon.

“Our league starts two weeks after we get back to Ireland on Friday and we will ease down a little then but these have been good sessions.”

Steady investment, mainly spearheaded by the efforts of the infamous Nick Leeson who is the club's chief executive, at Galway's Terryland Park ground has meant facilities have improved on and off the pitch in Alan Lee's home town, but Cousins has been impressed with the Blues training facilities at Playford Road.

Just as importantly has been the welcome the Irish party has received.

He said: “All the staff have been great. Everyone from the office staff to the people who make the lunches have been so friendly and open it has been magnificent.

“You don't know someone until you live with them and this is good for team morale when we all eat together and do things together. We mix everyone together so there are no little groups.”

It has helped that Cousins, who played alongside Jim Magilton in one game in Liverpool's reserves before the Town boss moved to Oxford United, has the same footballing philosophy

“We try to play and sometimes in our league that is hard but we both like to try and get the ball down and pass. Every league has teams that like to go long but our philosophy is to play football and those beliefs probably stick with us from our time at Liverpool.”

Town played a friendly at Galway in the summer of 2006 and Cousins hopes this visit will lead to even stronger links being forged, with an all-Ireland League being proposed.

Cousins picked out Liam Trotter, Chris Casement, Ed Upson and Ollie Fenn, as players he liked the look of after the match but Magilton was not willing to let some of his players go out just yet.

Cousins said: “It may be a bit early this season but we may have a look at one or two,

“I asked about Liam and he said I can't have him.”

There may not have been any chance of getting a sun-tan but there is still a chance that Galway will take away more than just extra fitness from their Suffolk sojourn, with one or two Town played eventually making their way across to the Emerald Isle.