Bray seafront saw big crowds on both Friday and Saturday for sporting reasons. Friday night evoked memories of 2012 when Katie Taylor brought home Olympic gold; this time she had the WBC, WBO, WBA and IBF world championship belts. A crowd of more than 2,000 gathered to welcome The Bray Bomber despite a clash with the Denmark v Ireland game.
Katie herself was known an accomplished soccer player growing up in Bray, as well as excelling at boxing. She played as an attacking midfielder and represented Ireland at U17, U19 and senior level; she scored four goals in a 2004 U19 game against Macedonia and netted twice in 11 appearances for the senior team between 2006 and 2009. All this while conquering the boxing world at the same time!
Saturday afternoon in Bray was a great advertisement for summer soccer. The ice-cream truck I suspect did better business than the hot foot wagon as the sun shone on The Carlisle Grounds. A decent crowd had assembled, pushed towards four figures by a large travelling Shelbourne contingent and a decent home crowd. Some Bray lads I know had actually gone without sleep to get back from Denmark for the game – that’s dedication for you!
Karl Moore’s free-kick after a quarter of an hour proved the decisive goal. Bray couldn’t break through in the remaining 75 minutes, despite putting in a decent effort that included Hughie Douglas staying up front for the last part of the game. LorcanFitzgerald was particularly impressive at the back for Shels, who deserved the win.
So Shelbourne stay on top with 11 games to go. The top six seems to have split into two mini groups of three, with Shelbourne, Drogheda and Longford having the most realistic chance of finishing top and securing automatic promotion. Bray, Cabinteely and Limerick are at the moment battling for the last play-off spot.
All this could change though. The part of the season from here to the end always seems disjointed to me, with league games more sporadic to accommodate a mid-season break and the FAI Cup rounds. A team can easily lose momentum in the league. If a side secures some friendlies against English or Scottish opposition that can serve as a distraction too, albeit a potentially money-spinning distraction.
So Katie brought home the belts and Shelbournebrought home the bacon. As for Bray, my hometownis never quiet at this time of year. It is used to big crowds, be they for sporting or other reasons. Its biggest crowd of the year will no doubt be the Bray Air Display in July, when more than 100,000 are expected to come to the town. This brings to mind the time in 2014 when we had a friendly against a Manchester United XI on the same day as the Air Display. At half time in the match [which Bray won!] planes were doing acrobatics overhead. Some United fans who had travelled over were sitting next to me and asked ‘’Wow, what’s that?!” to which I replied nonchalantly ‘’Oh, just the half-time entertainment. We have it every week”.