St. Patrick’s Athletic 1 (Kelly 84m), Bray Wanderers 2 (Flood 21, McCabe 64m)
Richmond Park, 24th February 2017, Premier Division.
Bray Wanderers began the 2017 season with a deserved win over St. Patrick’s athletic at Richmond Park.
Greene had a speculative effort wide of the target within minutes of the opening whistle, but the first serious attack by the visitors came closer, with John Sullivan heading just over, five minutes in.
Just after the ten minute mark, Connolly brought Barry Murphy into play with a lively looking header, and within a minute the hosts had their first opportunity to threaten when Alex O’Hanlon took charge of a wide free following Greene’s challenge on Ian Bermingham, but the dead-ball was easily cleared.
Greene had further attempts either side of the quarter hour, but again narrowly off target, before McCabe came into play with a crashing free that bounded off the Pats crossbar and out for a goal kick. And then a signature burst up the wing by Connolly finished with a cross that found Murphy parrying and Flood in position to slot home.
Gary McCabe then fired a free kick off the top of the St. Pat’s crossbar as the visitors continued on top.
At this stage it seemed all Bray, as first Kevin Lynch, and then Hugh Douglas menaced Murphy’s goal within a minute but without result. Less than ten minutes remained in the half when Cherrie got his first touch, blocking an effort by Kurtis Byrne, while Clancy cleared away the next attempt, by Conan Byrne a minute later.
But three minutes from the break it was Murphy who was busy, forced to concede a corner when Connolly intercepted a defensive header and powered towards the net. Flood sought to double his and his team’s tally from a Lynch free, but the somewhat disconcerted home defence managed to clear off the line.
Liam Buckley brought Kelly and Billy Dennehy on just before the hour in hope of beefing up the home attack, and indeed any serious attempts on the Bray goal after that involved at least one of them.
There was little in the Pats defence, either, that was able to rattle the Bray attack minutes later when Greene and Flood combined well in the buildup before releasing McCabe with a fine pull-back from deep behind Dennehy, and the winger celebrated his return to Bray with a delightful curling shot past the Pats keeper.
With a quarter of an hour to go, a defensive error gifted the ball to the hosts who forced it over the line after close play that included a foul on the Bray keeper, and the Saints remained goal-less.
Bermingham had a half-chance but headed over following a threatening cross by Dennehy, and minutes after that Dennehy and Fagan combined to put Keena in a scoring position, but his shot flew just wide.
With five minutes remaining, former Wanderer Graham Kelly scored from close range. But as the clock ticked past 90, a heavy challenge by Keena on Connolly earned the sub a straight red. Darren Dennehy, who had been booked earlier and consequently joined Keena, but Bray goalie Peter Cherrie and defender Tim Clancy also received cautions.
And after all that, Conan Byrne had the ball in the net again before the final whistle, but the offside flag was raised.
Bray Wanderers: Peter Cherrie; Hugh Douglas, Tim Clancy, Conor Kenna, Kevin Lynch; John Sullivan; Dylan Connolly, Keith Buckley, Gary McCabe; Aaron Greene, Anthony Flood Subs: Derek Foran, Ryan Brennan (for McCabe 82), Mark Salmon, Karl Moore (for Connolly 95+), Alan Kehoe, Ger Pender (for Flood 72, 93 Lee Steacy (gk).
St Patricks Athletic: Barry Murphy; Michael Barker, Darren Dennehy, Gavin Peers, Ian Bermingham; Patrick Cregg; Conan Byrne, Jonathan Lunney, Alex O’Hanlon, Kurtis Byrne; Christopher Fagan Subs: Conor O’Malley (gk), Graham Kelly (for Byrne 54), Sam Verdon, Lee Desmond, Darragh Markey, Billy Dennehy (for O’Hanlon 54), Aidan Keena (for Lunney 68)
Referee: Derek Tomney .
Report: Michael Duffy