League of Ireland Preview: Bray Wanderers

by Back Page Football

Bray WanderersThere is a changing of the guard at Bray Wanderers this season with the club ending their long association with Pat Devlin, a man who had served the club extremely well since 1986.

Devlin guided Wanderers to two FAI Cup wins during his tenure as manager and spoke out about the decision to replace him with Alan Mathews via a press conference back in January where he put his side of things across to the media.

The 60-year-old claimed that the actions of the board were not supportive of the players and there were outstanding issues over payments owed to members of staff which were being ignored.

As well as Devlin, the club also lost last season’s top goal scorer Jason Byrne to Bohemians. Byrne scored 27 goals in 40 games during his second spell at the club, and the worry is that he hasn’t been sufficiently replaced. Another striker, Kieran ‘Marty’ Waters, also left the club and has joined Shamrock Rovers.

Bray’s season didn’t get off to the best of starts last week when they were on the end of 5-1 drubbing by Bohs in the Leinster Senior Cup.

Last season: 11th
2014 odds: 500/1
In: Jake Kelly (St Patrick’s Athletic), Adam Hanlon (Shelbourne), David Cassidy (Drogheda United), Gary Curran (Mervue United), Jamie McGlynn (Shelbourne), Graham Kelly (Athlone Town), Dave Scully (Bohemians).
Out: John Mulroy (Athlone Town), Kieran Marty Waters (Shamrock Rovers), Ryan Coombes (Shamrock Rovers B), Kevin Knight (Shamrock Rovers B), Jason Byrne (Bohemians), Kevin O’Connor (Longford Town), Gary Dempsey (Retired), Darren Quigley (Released), Daire Doyle (Drogheda United), Sean Holmes (Cherry Orchard)

What’s new?

Bray Wanderers fans will have to get used to a new man in charge with Alan Mathews now in the hot seat, and also have to contend with losing Jason Byrne who is one of only two players to crack the 200 goal mark in the league.

It’s fair to say that supporters of Mathews’ former club Shelbourne were not his biggest supporters, and their “vile and poisonous abuse” was cited as a reason for his decision to resign his position in May of last year. While the actions of some Shels supporters can’t be condoned, their team was rooted to the bottom of the Premier Division under Mathews with just one win in 13 games and boasted a terrible disciplinary record.

On the bright side, league veteran David Cassidy has signed on for 2014 and he will be a key figure in Bray’s bid to avoid the drop, while Jake Kelly will be looking to fulfil the promise that earned him a contract at St. Patrick’s Athletic a few seasons ago.

Key player

David Cassidy. The 28-year-old has been one of the classiest players in the League of Ireland for a number of years and his signing is a massive coup for the Seagulls. His influence in midfield will be key given he is likely to be surrounded by youngsters.

Keep an eye on

Ciaran Byrne. In 2012, while at Shamrock Rovers, Byrne became the first player to move to Perth in Western Australia as part of a link up with a semi professional side of the same name. Byrne was a revelation Down Under, and finished as the Player of the Year and won the Golden Boot for the State’s second tier competition in 2013.

Now 20, he will be looking to establish himself in the League of Ireland and should see plenty of game time at the Carlisle Grounds.

Where will they finish?

For us, it’s a straight shoot out between Bray and UCD for the automatic relegation spot and the former’s ten year stay in the top flight is under serious threat. Both sides will rely heavily on youth but Bray have lost too much in attack which makes them favourites to go down.

Prediction: 12th

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