Well, that was a short pre-season. Two weeks after the end of the 2014-2015 season, I was at my first game of the 2015-2016 season.
I was in Dublin for the day, and as Bray were at home, it would have been rude not to head to the Carlisle Grounds, on the DART line right beside a station.
Curiously, the 2014-2015 season also began for me at Carlisle Grounds. Like when I visited last season, Bray were struggling at the bottom end of the table and were desperate for points.
Like Bray, I had also seen Sligo Rovers play before, in their case against Bohemians in 2009. Like Bray, the only time i’d seen Sligo play ended in defeat. One, or possibly both, losing runs were going to end.
Given both teams proximity to each other at the bottom of the table, they were both desperate to get the points on offer.
Sligo’s pre-match preparation was dominated by the future of manager Owen Heary, or lack of a future. For a brief period during the first-half, visiting Sligo fans sang songs in support of him, with Sligo issuing a statement that he has stepped down.
Bray had made a bright start to the game, having some pressure on Sligo’s goal, but it was Sligo who had the first chance of the game when a cross flashed across the box by Cretaro, but Armstrong was unable to finish.
Within minutes, Bray struck when a scramble resulted in Sullivan firing home from close range after a team-mate failed to do so when he should have scored.
Sligo responded by having possession and attempts on goal. They were just that. They stung the goalkeeper’s hands but they were saves the goalkeeper should be making.
After all those shot, ironically, Sligo almost equalised when a tackle went goalwards. They also had a shot cleared off the line from close range that should have been scored.
Bray were glad to hear the half-time whistle, to allow them a chance to regroup.
The second-half was poor to watch, it was a typical bottom of the table clash with both teams desperate for points. Both teams were feeling the pressure. Neither of them looked like scoring in the second-half. There was no belief that they would.
With each passing moment, Bray fans were starting to fear that they would concede a vital equaliser. As the minutes ticked down, Bray were able to smother the game and hold on to possession.
There were still nerves. A speculative shot from Bray went over with 30 seconds remaining, prompting groans from the crowd and an angry response from manager Trevor Croly.
Bray were able to see the game out and get the three points which saw them leapfrog Sligo into 10th, and 1 point behind Derry City, who are now being dragged into a relegation battle.
Bray play Limerick (12th) and Derry (9th) in their next two games and are hitting a run of form just in time for these.
Now that 2015-2016 is up and running, next up is Linfield v NSI Runavik in the UEFA Cup on Thursday night. Linfield’s friendly schedule offers a trip to Knockbreda at the end of the month, a new ground for me to visit.
Another ground that i’ll be visiting for the first time to see Linfield play will be Belfast Loughshore Hotel Arena, or Taylor’s Avenue, in old currency.
I’ve just booked a trip to Edinburgh for the Festival, but of course, i’ll be planning to take in a game. The game on while i’m there is Hearts v Partick. There’s also midweek games on in the League Cup, so hopefully, Hibs will be at home, or even a team easily commutable (Fife/Falkirk) that week.
With regards to Manchester United, i’m looking at Sunderland in September and Bournemouth in May, and possible some more.
So that’s me off and running for 2015-2016, a season I hope will end in France in June.
Bray v Drogheda 2014