Cockhill Celtic 1 Bray Wanderers 3
Three goals in a sensational 12-minute first half spell saw Bray finally end their Sports Direct Men’s FAI Cup hoodoo.
Nine matches had come and gone in the competition since September 2015 when Wanderers last tasted victory in the Cup.
But at a very wet Charlie O’Donnell Sports Grounds on Saturday afternoon, the Wicklow side booked their place in the last 16 with a 3-1 win over Ulster Senior League champions Cockhill Celtic.
From the team who’d gone down at home to Wexford last week, there was no less than seven changes to the starting XI.
Alex Moody, skipper Dave Webster, Cole Omorehiomwan, Harry Groome, Callum Thompson, Guillermo Almirall, and Chris Lyons all started.
On the bench, Jake Walker and Zach Donohue came in amongst the substitutes.
With a 600km round trip to Buncrana in Donegal, the Seagulls survived a 12th minute scare as Garbhan Friel powered a front post header off the near post from a corner.
They then had a major let-off in the 21st minute.
A long free from the left near the halfway line by the home saw Moody challenged in the air. The loose ball drops behind and rolls wide of the open goal for a corner.
But playing in the away navy gear as ‘Celtic lined out in Green and White, the visitors hot the front in the 24th minute.
Len O’Sullivan linked with Thompson down the left channel before Lyons was found. He evaded his marker and got o the by-line to centre low.
Ben Feeney gathered but was blocked off. However, the attacker turned well to create space and hit a low 15-yard right footed effort to the bottom left corner of the net for his ninth goal of the season.
It got even better in the 33rd minute.
When Bray last won in the FAI back in September 2015 against Killester United, Lyons featured that day at the Carlisle Grounds.
Thompson was released down the left win. And from the end-line, squared low were a sliding Lyons converted close in off the underside of the crossbar.
Within 90 seconds, it was 3-0 as Thompson registered his first goal for the club since August 2021.
From 30-yards out, the winger superbly lobbed Ciaran Gallagher with a first-time placed right-footed attempt with the ball dropping just under the bar.
But Cockhill pulled one back in the 41st minute.
Fionn McClure whipped in a corner form the right left-footed. At a crowded front post in the wet conditions, Alex Moody inadvertently parried into his own net.
The hosts went close again in the 49th minute. A corner was flicked by Peter Doherty to the back post were Friel could not direct the ball on target.
Less than a minute later, Feeney beat the offside off the right. He broke in on goal but is denied by Gallagher. The looping ball drops to the back stick were Lee McLaughlin headed clear ahead of the waiting Lyons.
As the weather deteriorated, and a plethora of substitutions followed, the last real chance of note arrived in the 77th minute.
A Bray clearance rebounded off a Cockhill player. It inadvertently plays in Friel. But Moody stands up to make a vital block.
Cockhill Celtic: Ciaran Gallagher; Lee McLaughlin, Peter Doherty, Oisin McColgan (Jason Breslin 56), Lee McColgan; Nathan Logue (Christopher McLaughlin half time), James Bradley, Luke Rudden (Caolan McColgan 68), Corey McBride (Stephen Duffy 78), Fionn McClure (Adam McLaughlin 78).
78); Garbhan Friel.
Subs not used: Daniel Doherty, Jack Mullan, Odhran O’Brien Daly, Gavin Cullen.
Booked: Caolan McColgan 76, Adam McLaughlin 90 +1.
Bray Wanderers: Alex Moody; Max Murphy (Conor Knight 87), Cole Omorehiomwan, David Webster, Len O’Sullivan; Guillermo Almirall; Conor Crowley (Darren Craven 72), Harry Groome (Seán Quinn 60); Ben Feeney (Yousef Mahdy 60), Chris Lyons, Callum Thompson (Ger Shortt 73).
Subs not used: Jake Walker, Lorcan Fitzgerald, Zach Donohue, Stephen McGuinness.
Booked: Webster 19, Mahdy 75
Referee: Paul Norton (Dublin)
Pictures: Joe Boland.