Drogheda United match preview and articles

Bray Wanderers meet Drogheda United at the Carlisle Grounds on Friday, 25 September in the First division. Due to Covid restrictions the match will be played with limited spectators allowed into the ground on the evening. 

Due to the limited attendance there will be no match day programme printed. Instead our regular match day programme articles from Michael Duffy, Brian Quigley and Mícheál Ó hUanacháin will appear as part of our match preview on the website.

Match Preview (Michael Duffy)

The top two sides in the First division meet at the Carlisle Grounds on Friday. Bray Wanderers extended their current unbeaten league run to eight games with a 2-1 win over Cobh Ramblers last Monday. This was also Wanderers fifth consecutive league victory. Wanderers last defeat was a 3-1 loss to Drogheda in United Park in August.

Bray Wanderers have the best home record in the division having won six and drawn one of their seven home league games this season. Drogheda United are unbeaten away from home with three wins and three draws from six away games to date.

Bray Wanderers have the best defence in the division, having conceded just 10 goals in 13 league games this season. Goalkeeper, Brian Maher has kept 8 clean sheets from 13 league appearances for the club.

Drogheda’s Mark Doyle is the top scorer in the division with 11 league goals, including a hat trick against Shamrock Rovers II on Tuesday night.


Bray Wanderers are unbeaten at home in their last 12 league games.

Drogheda United have lost on their last five league visits to the Carlisle grounds.

Friday’s game is the 79th meeting between Bray Wanderers and Drogheda United in all competitions. Drogheda have won 34 to Bray’s 27 to date.

The sides have met 64 times previously in league meetings with Drogheda leading on the head to head with 27 wins to Bray’s 22

‘Harbour Lights’ (Brian Quigley)

I’ve always harboured a desire to get a view of Harbour View playing. It’s another one for the bucket list, or the Lotto win, or the Lotto win combined with the bucket list – Harbour View FC play in the Red Stripe Jamaican Premier League so serious funds would be needed to get there!

I’ve always liked harbours. Coming from Bray, the harbour has always had a magical appeal for me. A walk along the promenade is never complete without taking in a loop around the harbour.

Our harbour has the world famous Harbour Bar, in which my brother once met Bono and I once met Miley from Glenroe. It has the bridge over the Dargle that the DART glides over as a scenic backdrop. It has a Martello Tower standing guard over it (Bono lived in it). And then of course there’s the Carlisle Grounds, a stone’s throw from the harbour and with its excellent drainage the result of the pitch having a cinder and ash base from the harbour.

One of my favourite TV shows was Harbour Lights, a little-known programme from the end of the last millennium that starred Nick Berry as Mike Nicholls, a former Royal Navy officer who returns to his childhood home of Bridehaven to take up the role of harbourmaster. It was designed as a post-Heartbeat vehicle for Berry and didn’t really take off, but I tuned in every week.

Back to Harbour View. Ricardo Gardner – who played for Bolton Wanderers between 1998 and 2012 – started his career at the club, who are based in East Kingston. He was the first player from the Jamaican League to transfer directly to a major European club.

Gardner’s transfer success was one among many firsts for Harbour View. They were the first club in Jamaica to build a world-class stadium – the Harbour View Stadium was built in the 1990’s and can hold 7,000. In 1999 they became the first club in Jamaica to be incorporated as a limited liability company. They were also the first club in Jamaica to have a website.

The Red Stripe Premier is a 12-team league, where Harbour View play against Portmore United, Tivoli Gardens, Arnett Gardens, Mount Pleasant, Molynes United, Cavalier, Dunbeholden, Humble Lions, Vere United, UWE and Waterhouse. The league has produced three Caribbean Football Union (CFU) Club Champions – Portmore United in 2005 and Harbour View in 2004 and 2007.

Harbour View, with four league titles to their credit, trail only Portmore United (seven), Arnett Gardens and Tivoli Gardens (five each). Just as an aside, ‘Gardens’ seems to be a popular appendage to team names in Jamaica – further down their pyramid there is also Seaview Gardens, Cooreville Gardens and Olympic Gardens!

This Friday’s clash with Drogheda could well be the title decider in this year’s First Division. Both clubs have been in title-winning form but there can only be one winner and one club automatically promoted. C’mon Bray!


Falling Apples

Mícheál Ó hUanacháin ponders on life with a pandemic and other matters, related or not

It has not gone unnoticed that the current truncated and inhibited League season is one of the oddest and – as far as the First Division goes, anyway – one of the most competitive in recent years.

I had the privilege of attending the first return to soccer competitive home game in the Carlisle Ground some weeks ago, and I have to admit the atmosphere was strange.  I was almost tempted to suggest that the teams, both teams, were under-performing in the absence of fans.  More recent results don’t appear to bear out my suspicion that a great deal of what supports teams’ efforts is the fact that there is an audience.

Not that there is no supporter-effect: there is some, just not as much as I feared.

The events of last week, and the renewed restrictions on life in the capital city, remind us that the pandemic which has so changed our circumstances is still active, still deadly and still a factor in all our planning.  The long-term effects of the outbreak are still unknown, both in medical and in economic terms and contexts, and it is probable that we will be dealing with them for several years to come.

The tiny Gulf state of Qatar has a population of about 2.8 million people.  Over the past six weeks or so, it has had an average daily rate of new Covid-19 cases of over 200; overall cases since the start of the pandemic number more than 120,000, and there have been more than 200 deaths.  It is unlikely to feature on any travel ‘green list’ any time soon.

But in just over two years’ time, Qatar is to be the venue for the football World Cup.  Group stages will be played from 21 November and the Final is scheduled for 18 December.   The average daily top temperature in Doha in November is 30ºC – not the furnace people feared when it was first chosen to host the Finals tournament, but pretty dangerously high for all that.  And the schedule is going to play merry hell with League calendars throughout the footballing world.

Why Qatar was so keen on hosting the FIFA World Cup is still something of a mystery – unless it’s just a matter of gaining international prestige, at a fairly steep price.  It’s not exactly a well-known footballing country.  Why Qatar was given the privilege of hosting the tournament is therefore also still a mystery, and that is despite the swirling rumours about bribery and corruption that still surround the then leadership of the world organising body.

The selection of the World Cup venues for 2018 and 2022 was not the only topic about which allegations were made, and investigations are still continuing.  At least eight people have already pleaded guilty in the USA to elements of the hugely complex web of deceit and fraud involved, since the first arrests were made in five years ago.  In March 2017, FIFA submitted 1300 pages of reports to the Swiss Attorney General’s office: their examination of the case could take up to five years to complete.

Lamine Diack

But scandal on a different stage has also already had an impact on the 2022 World Cup.  Last week, Lamine Diack (along with six other people) was convicted in a French court of accepting bribes to help cover up the failed dope tests of more than 20 Russian athletes prior to the 2012 Olympic Games in London.  At the time, Diack had been President of the international athletics federation, IAAF (now known as World Athletics), since 1999, and he has been widely suspected of further cooperation with the Russian anti-doping agency, RUSADA, in return for bribes.  The French judge said Diack and his son had profited by at least $15 million from the Olympics scheme alone.  They were both sentenced to prison terms – which, of course, they are appealing.

The Diacks are also under investigation in connection with the award of the 2016 Olympics to Rio and the 2020 games to Tokyo.

On 9 December 2019, the World Anti-Doping Agency banned Russia for four years from all major sporting events, after RUSADA was found to have covered up incriminating test data.  Russian athletes, if any, at the 2020 Olympics (whenever that is held) were to have paraded under the Olympic rather than the Russian flag and would have been treated in effect as stateless persons.

However, as far as the World Cup is concerned the ban only applies to the Finals tournament in Qatar.  If Russia were to qualify, its footballers could potentially compete there – but not as “Russia”, and without the Russian flag or anthem.

Brandon Miele,

Ireland’s record on doping has been relatively respectable.  The last active League of Ireland player to have had a violation recorded against him was then St Patricks Athletic man Brandon Miele, who was banned for two years from September 2019 – despite, it should be emphasised, not having been tested positive for any drug: his violation was in failing to provide a satisfactory specimen for testing.

But the arrest in Dublin last month of two men active in football in connection with illegal drugs of the other kind, €3m worth of heroin, was a shock to the game.  Andrew Noonan was manager of Bluebell United, and Keith Quinn was a player there.  If the latter name sounds a little familiar, it’s because Quinn, who was captain of Sheffield United’s youth team and later an Ireland Under-21 international, played in several League of Ireland teams from 2010 until 2014, notably Cork City (briefly), Longford Town and Shelbourne.  He has been playing with Bluebell since then.

For an aspiring sports man or woman, the indispensable attribute is talent.  A little talent may get you quite a long way, and it’s probably unnecessary to add that the more talent you have the further you can go.  But there are other traits that are valuable, too.

Competitiveness is a great help, most obviously in athletics and the related, largely individual, Olympic disciplines.  And in field sports, the capacity to bond with others, to form a team which is greater than the sum of its individual members, is highly valued.

But competitiveness can shade almost imperceptibly into acquisitiveness, and that in turn can become a form of greed.  Likewise, when stripped of the Rules of the Game and the Codes of Behaviour, there’s little in essence that divides team spirit from gang loyalty, from omerta, from criminal conspiracy.

Consider the millions upon millions who constitute the worldwide community of sport.  In such an enormous barrel, it is hardly surprising that some of the apples can be found to be rotten.  What is surprising, in the end, is how few turn out that way.