Bray are back! We have a new manager, a squad of players and a budget for 2018. Pre-season training has started. Rumours of our demise have been greatly exaggerated, to quote Mark Twain. To all those who have been wondering if we’d survive, all I’ll say is ‘’See you in the Carlisle”.
Yes we are late coming to the party but 2017 was a tumultuous and tempestuous year for The Seagulls, and culminated in the departure of Harry Kenny and an air of uncertainty hanging over the club like a thick fog. The fog is clearing over Bray though, and we are beginning to see the floodlights at the end of the tunnel.
Dave Mackey was an inspired choice by the club to take over as manager. Dave is one of us, having been at the club between 2008 and 2013 in various coaching and underage managerial roles. He has experience with Cabinteely more recently, and going right back his footballing knowledge is built on the solid foundations of his playing career with Dundalk, Shelbourne and Shamrock Rovers between 1980 and 1993.
Dave’s backroom team for the senior side has yet to be finalised at the time of writing, but the managers of our Academy sides for 2018 have been confirmed as Gavin Teehan [U15], Bernard Byrne [U17] and Tom O’Connor [U19]. An experienced set of guys to steer the underage ship. Hopefully 2018 can see more players like Jake Ellis coming through [Jake made the first team in 2017, aged just 16].
On the playing front it was great to see Hugh Douglas, John ‘The Truck’ Sullivan, Gary McCabe, Conor Kenna and Ger Pender re-sign from the 2017 squad for 2018. Hopefully 2017 Player of the Year Peter Cherrie will sign back also. Some players were on 2-year deals last term and so are still with the club for 2018 [Aaron Greene, Kevin Lynch and Darragh Noone].
New faces coming in are Paul O’Conor from St Patrick’s Athletic, Sean Heaney and Darragh Gibbons from Shamrock Rovers, Dylan Hayes from Bohemians and Jake Kelly from Longford Town. Strictly speaking, Jake isn’t a new face, having graced the Carlisle Grounds turf in Bray colours before.
Keith Buckley has returned to Bohemians and we wish him all the best. A great player for us in 2017, I’m sure he will have another fantastic season in 2018. Bohemians will certainly be a team to watch closely, they were the surprise package of 2017 for many and Keith Long will be eager to push the club even further this time out.
The real sign for me that things are getting back into gear wasn’t any of the welcome signings and appointments listed above. It was the Leinster Senior Cup draw. We drew St Patrick Athletic. Who else?! We always pull them in the Leinster Senior Cup, a competition we have never won. It’s like an annual early-season event at this stage!