Friday night went according to plan in some respects, but not in others. Bray Wanderers did their job, getting a magnificent win that kept them in fifth place ahead of Bohemians [who produced an equally-magnificent win over Dundalk]. The battle for fifth goes down to the wire.
Unfortunately, Storm Brian disrupted my travel plans so I did not even make it out to Bray for the game, as had been my intention. The indignity of being disrupted by a storm named after yourself. At least I wasn’t a hurricane – that would have taken out the match itself. I’d hate to do that to my team. You have to be thankful for small mercies.
The ‘Orange Alert’ for Wicklow reminded me of the TV show ‘The Prisoner’ starring Patrick McGoohan. Set in a fictional seaside town [but filmed in Portmeirion in Wales] from which there is no escape, a giant weather-balloon named ‘Rover’ is dispatched to return any prospective escapees in a manoeuvre called an ‘Orange Alert’. For me it was the opposite – there was no escape into the seaside town of Bray.
The conditions the game was played in, from the footage and photos I’ve seen, reminded me of the last game of the 2014 season. We scrapped hard in atrocious conditions against champions-elect Dundalk and got a result that ensured our safety.
Beating Shamrock Rovers is always an achievement. Just as we are battling with Bohemians for fifth, Rovers are battling with Derry for third. To inflict a defeat on them in these circumstances made the achievement even better. I was delighted that Aaron Greene got the goal. With 12 now in the league for the season, Bray will have both Aaron and Gary McCabe [15 league goals so far] in the end-of-season top ten goal-scorer charts.
So next week we have to get a point away to Cork in order to ensure that Bohemians can’t catch us. Our destiny is in our own hands, even if it is a huge ask of the lads. None of this ‘’sure Cork have the League won and they’ll be resting up before the FAI Cup Final’’ if you please. The SSE Airtricity League trophy will be presented at Turner’s Cross on the night, and Cork will want to put on a show for their fans. Aside from that, lads will be playing for Cup Final places, not resting in advance of it. By the way, despite the game being a certain sell-out, fair play to Cork for reserving some tickets for the travelling Bray fans. A sporting gesture from the champions.
Bohemians have Finn Harps in Dalymount in their last game. I’d expect Bohemians to win. Regardless of whether they finish above us or not, Keith Long and his side are to be congratulated for the season they’ve had. At one point early on they looked like being in a relegation battle but they came good and have been entertaining any time I’ve seen them. They’ll push on next year, for sure.
Unfortunately for Bray, as the season has gone on we have had to revise down our expectations, not up. At one point we were up there with Dundalk and Cork. Then it looked realistic to be thinking of third or fourth and a European spot. In the end, we’re going to be fifth or sixth. Still a great achievement, and the club are to be congratulated for finishing in the top half for the second year in a row.
Storm Brian looks to have passed as I write this. Better sign off and head out to survey the damage in the garden!