Things had changed a bit since I was last at Bray in 2015.
Back then, they were an established top flight club but never really challenging the top, just keeping their head above water most seasons, but still remaining a top flight club.
Since then, the club have been in the headlines for happenings off the pitch usually a financial crisis of some sort, players not being paid, they were inevitably relegated in 2018.
There is a term in business called “Seagull Managers“, people who turn up, leave a mess and then fly away. That is probably the most apt way to describe the last few years at Bray, especially as their nickname is The Seagulls.
Entering the Carlisle Grounds, Don’t Go Breaking My Heart by Elton John and Kiki Dee was on the tannoy. I don’t know if that is aimed at their players. It could be, looking at how their attempts at promotion at the first time of asking has gone so far.
For most of the season, there was a traffic jam at the top of the table, but a run of four defeats in five games have seen Bray be cut adrift of leaders Shelbourne, now hoping to get a Play-Off spot. Even that looks a big ask/
Limerick, like Bray, have also suffered financial troubles and were also relegated in 2018.
Just like Bray, it looks like an automatic return to the top flight will be beyond them, and a Play-Off is now the goal for them, kicking off four points clear of Bray.
Due to matches being rearranged due to European competition, there were no top flight games in Dublin.
My choice was either Shelbourne v Cabinteely or Bray Wanderers v Limerick. Having been to Tolka Park last year and not being in Bray since 2015, Bray would be my choice.
Frustratingly, there would be no friendlies for English clubs (well, apart from Chelsea) during my stay, frustratingly missing out on the option of Bristol Rovers or Portsmouth playing friendlies the night before I arrived.
The first-half saw Bray all over Limerick. Limerick couldn’t get out of their own half, with their keeper having to stretch to make a save after a neat passing move by Bray, before Dylan McGlade hit the post.
McGlade, with his socks rolled down like Jack Grealish (probably a swear word in the Republic of Ireland) was dictating things for Bray, usually involved in all of their good attacking play, being fouled in injury time to win a penalty for Bray.
Paul Keegan stepped up to take it. It was obvious he was going to blast it. The only question was where. The answer, was into the back of the net to give Bray a deserved lead.
Bray were still on top in the second-half, but suffered a blow when Killian Cantwell was sent-off for a professional foul on the edge of the box, just as Limerick were going to have their first attempt on goal.
Hugh Douglas thought he had headed home to make it 2-0 but the goal was disallowed. I couldn’t actually see what it was disallowed for.
Bray couldn’t get the goal they needed to secure the points, but were able to keep Limerick at bay.
Naturally, with only one goal in it, Limerick enjoyed more of the ball in the final minutes as they had the greater need, creating some nervous moments for Bray.
One of those moments was a shot being lined up from the edge of the penalty area which was deflected out for a corner.
Much to Limerick’s annoyance, the full-time whistle blew before they could take it. Their keeper was so incensed he ran the length of the pitch to protest to the Referee.
With the match kicking off a few minutes late, and a total of seven minutes injury time in the game, fans wanting to get the 9.45pm DART only had a few minutes (the ground is a one minute walk from the station) to spare, with a thirty minute wait until the next one.
A corner kick which doesn’t get properly cleared could leave fans with very little room for error.
It’s good to see decision makers taking football fans into consideration.
Those that weren’t in a rush to get the DART stayed to celebrate a vital win.
Bray Wanderers v Sligo Rovers 2015
Bray Wanderers v Drogheda United 2014