Bray Wanderers will have to face another season of First Division football in 2021 after going down to a late Galway goal at the Carlisle Grounds in their play-off semi-final on Saturday. The result had déjà vu written all over it, with Bray having lost by the same score and in a similar fashion exactly a week before in their last regular-season home game.
There is certainly no disgrace in losing to a fine Galway side that have been the form team of the second half of the First Division campaign. This upturn in the fortunes of The Tribesmen coincided with John Caulfield taking the reins; Galway had won none, drawn four and lost four games pre-Caulfield, and transformed their season with seven wins and a draw from the last 10 games once Caulfield was in place.
I reckoned Caulfield was there to build for a promotion push next year, but the great man obviously had other plans and did the impossible by hauling Galway from the bottom three to the play-offs. Credit where it’s due.
Galway may or not get past Longford, and even if they do the play-off final against the ninth-placed Premier Division side may see them come unstuck, but the excitement they have brought to the 2020 season has been welcome and much appreciated.
Wanderers can be proud of their season too. They were consistently at or near the top all the way through and played some nice football. The vibe around the club and amongst the fans hasn’t been this good for a long time and another season rebuilding in the First Division – while not the preferred outcome to 2020 – isn’t a disaster.
The First Division has been exciting and competitive this term, and Bray have played their part in this. With Cork joining us next term – and potentially another Premier Division side – it will be competitive and exciting again in 2021. Hopefully by the time things resume in March the fans will be allowed back into the stadiums to watch. Hopefully also there will be a Limerick side back in the fold by then.
With Wanderers reaching the end of the line I’m going to take the opportunity to rest this column until next spring. It has been a pleasure writing this weekly piece for the fifth year in a row and I look forward to returning in 2021.