Galway United match preview and articles

Bray Wanderers meet Galway United at the Carlisle Grounds on Saturday, 24 October in the First division. Due to Covid restrictions the match will be played with no spectators allowed into the ground on the day. 

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)

Bray Wanderers and Galway United have met 61 times previously in all competitions with Wanderers leading on the head to head with 25 wins to Galway’s 22. Saturday’s meeting is the 55th league meeting of the sides. Wanderers have won 22 league meetings to Galway’s 19.

The sides met earlier this season and played out a scoreless draw at Eamon Deacy park. This was the first scoreless draw ever between the teams. Bray Wanderers are on a eight game unbeaten run against Galway United – with five wins and three draws in that spell.

Bray Wanderers have won seven out of their last eight league games this season and will win the First division title this season if they win their remaining two league games. Galway’s hopes of making the playoffs suffered a big set back with a 3-1 home defeat to Drogheda United. Galway’s only hope of making the playoffs is to win their final two league games and hope Cabinteely and Cobh both fail to win their final league game.

‘Convoy’ Brian Quigley

Imagine the scene. A line of vehicles bedecked in Arsenal paraphernalia is travelling along the R236 in east Donegal, transporting the Gunners fans to a low-key but exotic friendly against a local side (Arsenal are warming up for their Europa League tie with Dundalk). The road will ultimately take you to Raphoe but the destination of the convoy is before that and it’s the village of Convoy. Convoy is home to 1,500 residents but more importantly it is home to the beautifully-named Convoy Arsenal FC of the Donegal League.

OK, this is just a dream, a flight of fancy – as my football stories usually are! Stranger things have happened though, so if ever a friendly takes place between Arsenal and Convoy Arsenal, I want some credit and a free ticket!

Convoy is located in the Finn Valley district, and is part of the Baronry of Raphoe. It is a mixed religious community, and this is reflected in the schools and churches of the village (the Church of Ireland is St. Ninian’s, a name that brings to mind Cardiff City’s former stadium Ninian Park). For many years a woolen mill provided local employment, but it shut down in the 1980s.

The village’s soccer club have done the area proud during their history. Successes have been had in the Donegal League and for a while in recent times the club moved up to the Ulster Senior League, a division that is one of the parallel (along with the Leinster Senior League and the Munster Senior League) third tiers in Irish soccer.

Talking of Convoy and convoys and convoys on the way to Convoy naturally brings to mind the film ‘Convoy’. Truckers form a mile-long convoy in support of a trucker’s vendetta with an abusive sheriff. The film – itself based the C W McCall country song of the same name (‘’Cause we got a little ol’ convoy / Rockin’ through the night / Yeah, we got a little ol’ convoy / Ain’t she a beautiful sight’’) – was directed by Sam Peckinpah and starred Kris Kristofferson. It has been a life-long favourite of mine.

Unfortunately there will be no convoy on the way to the Carlisle Grounds this Saturday for our game against Galway, due to COVID-19. Nevertheless we will tune in to the club’s Facebook page and listen to Vincent Kirwan’s excellent commentary. A win and we are almost over the finish line. For me the end to this campaign brings me right back to the excitement of our first promotion run in 1986, and being distracted by it when I should have been studying for my Leaving Certificate. C’mon Bray!

So much to do

Mícheál Ó hUanacháin gives a half-time report on the reform of the FAI

From the appointment of Joe Wickham as General Secretary of the FAI in 1936, he and three successors between them held that position for the next sixty years.  The job was restyled Chief Executive Officer in 1997 with the appointment of Bernard O’Byrne, and twenty years later the fourth CEO, John Delaney, was in place.

Since the latter’s withdrawal in early 2019, notionally to become Executive Vice-President, there have been four – or perhaps four and a half, if you include John Foley, who accepted the job but never actually took up office – Interim CEOs.

I include Noel Mooney here, because while his title was actually “General Manager for Football Services and Partnerships”, his role was fundamentally the same as that of an interim CEO. Nobody ever suggested the job was an easy one.  Or that it was necessary to hold it for a long time.  But no-one would have contemplated the situation being effectively vacant for nineteen months, either.

Jonathan Hill

The FAI has finally found a new Chief Executive in Jonathan Hill, and perhaps the first phase of the reconstruction of the Association is thereby now complete.

But don’t for a moment imagine that the crisis is over.  Far from it.  In the fallout from the final drama of the Delaney era, at least four and possibly as many as six investigations into the affairs of the FAI were commissioned, and so far only one, that of the Governance Review Group initiated by Sport Ireland, nominally in association with the FAI Board, has been published.

The main thrust of that review, headed by Aidan Horan, was an examination of the FAI’s existing structures in an attempt to “rebuild and restore trust, confidence and faith in how the Association is governed.”  At the time, the trust and confidence of Sport Ireland and the Government were what was in question, and the actions taken since then on foot of the report have not been especially convincing.

First of all, there was a rush to legislate: to change the FAI’s ruling bodies and their procedures to bring them into line with the latest best practice in the corporate world, in some instances – largely at the urging of the Government – going way outside what was actually recommended.

As a consequence, the interim has seen no fewer than four rule-changing Extraordinary General Meetings (five if the one on term limits, which had been organised towards the end of the Delaney days, is included); the 2019 Annual General Meeting had to be adjourned for the finalisation of the accounts from July until December; and the 2020 AGM, which had been deferred from last July, has still not taken place.

It would take a very determined delegate to keep track of all that has happened in those meetings.  Hopefully, someone at head office has been on the ball, and we’ll soon see a finalised Rule Book.

The other investigations, mostly in the financial field, seem to have been without exception referred to either the Garda Siochána or the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement – or both.  So there’s little likelihood of anyone outside the legal profession seeing those for months if not years to come.

And in that regard, Mark Tighe & Paul Rowan’s Champagne Football, rivetting read or nauseating reminder of the disaster, depending on the reader’s reaction, is most revealing in what it doesn’t contain.

But all that said, the reform of the Association has so far been in one direction only.  The Horan Report, in its 78 recommendations, makes no significant reference to football, which after all is supposed to be the FAI’s primary focus, until number 51.  There is still a major job to be done in addressing the weaknesses of the game’s structure and representation within the organisation that is supposed to further it.

The supine behaviour of the delegates of Leagues and Clubs in the Association’s supposedly democrative structures, the ones not addressed in detail by the Governance Report, had been a matter of both public and private comment for years prior to the FAI’s fall from grace last year.

Hopefully, the new brooms at the top of the heap will encourage a more robust and open involvement between the so-called “suits” and the volunteers who make up the majority of those meetings in future.

While a reduction in the obsessive fixation on the National teams would help rebalance the Association, there are problems to be fixed in those areas, too, not least in the treatment of the Women’s teams.  Surely a new leadership should be best placed to address some of those issues, with little or no baggage to prevent swift action?

The activities of the Premier Clubs Alliance and the First Division Alliance, and their improving relationship with Abbotstown, could go some way towards regularising and strengthening the operation of the National League Executive Committee, and thus improving the League.

And there are some indications that questions are being raised about the multiplicity of geographical and sectoral divisions in the amateur and under-age game, which have often hindered rather than helped their operations.