With seven players making their Bray Wanderers debut, Head Coach Ian Ryan was overall happy with the Leinster Senior Cup draw with Evergreen FC.
Although the better team on the all-weather surface at the Kells Road venue on Thursday, the Seagulls had to settle for a point in their opening Group C fixture in the provincial competition.
With a clean sheet, and plenty of positives to take from the tie, he said “It was a good game. We played against a well organised team. We’re not up to our rhythm probably as we hope, to where we want to be at the start of the league (next month). That’s expected.”
Ryan continued “We had a few chances that we probably could have put away. And then that’s a different game. We looked good defensively, solid in structure off the ball. But probably weren’t clinical to score the goals we deserved.”
Jimmy Corcoran, Evan Osam, Shane Griffin, Kieran Cruise, Cristian Magerusan, Freddie Turley, and Peter Grogan all debuted in Kilkenny.
Skipper Kilian Cantwell made his return to the club while Ben Feeney was welcomed back after being injured last September.
“The main thing for us was to get minutes in. Five lads played the entire 90 minutes. We might do the same against Wexford (next Wednesday January 31). And possibly the same against Shelbourne (Monday February 5). That’s important” explained Ryan.
The only down-point was the possible injury to new recruit Peter Grogan.
The current Irish Schools player of the year left the game in the closing stages on crutches.
“That was the only blot in the copybook. Hopefully, it’s not as bad as it looked in the first few seconds. He’s on crutches. But thankfully not as much pain as he was” Ryan revealed.
With several of the club’s underage players following the pathway into the first team squad so far in pre-season, Ryan confirmed there was still room for a few additions to the 2024 senior panel.
“Squad wise, we are almost there. We’ve got a good mix of people. You can see the blend of players. We can only name seven subs because of the rules of the Leinster Senior Cup. There will be more to the squad against Wexford on Wednesday.”
The three Leinster Senior Cup games will be a useful exercise in preparation for UCD at the Carlisle Grounds on Friday February 16.
“By the end of the three games, we go into the Drogheda United game (Friday February 9). The ideal scenario is we have everybody coming in on equal minutes. So, everybody is up to match speed and fitness. As we progress through those games, we’ll get our rhythm. And people get used to playing each other in partnerships and relationships throughout the pitch” Ryan concluded.