Seagulls boss eager to get season under way
‘BRING IT ON’, is the message from Bray Wanderers manager Keith Long ahead of this season’s League of Ireland kick-off.
On Friday night, the Seagulls entertain Bohemians at the Carlisle Grounds in the 2011 season opener and Long is chomping at the bit waiting for Pat Fenlon and his side to roll into town.
Long said: ‘I can’t wait until we get going on Friday really. Pre-season’s been tough. The weather hasn’t been too clever; we’ve had games cancelled etc. so whilst we have a few games under our belts we obviously can’t wait until the season kicks off on Friday.’
The Wicklow club’s heroics in the final third of last season has raised the bar for the club, with many tipping Wanderers for a mid-table finish but Long isn’t worrying about becoming a victim of his own success, all he’s focusing on is Friday’s curtain-raiser.
‘You can’t get carried away’, explained Long. ‘The season hasn’t even begun yet and people are making predictions but we’re optimistic for the season, lets put it that way. We’ve got Bohs at home on Friday and we’re looking to kick off the season on the right note. As far as making predictions of where we’re going to finish, you can’t do that. You’ve got to take things as they happen. It’s one game at a time, that’s our approach and that’s the way we’ll always approach it because you can’t really do it any other way.
‘If we start our season with a good result on Friday that gives us confidence; we’ll grow, we’ll work harder and so on but really we just can’t wait to get the season up and running at this stage. As far as (where we will be) finishing the season, all that stuff is for further down the line. We’re just focused on Friday and giving Bohs a good game and hopefully we’ll get a good result.’
But one disadvantage of Bohs’ turbulent preseason campaign is that they have had little time to put a squad together, a disadvantage for both sides as it has also prevented Bray from getting any information on their upcoming opponents. Long however, is happy to concentrate on his own set of players.
‘Well we can only look after ourselves. We can’t worry about what’s going on with Bohs. We can only prepare ourselves. Obviously we’ve tried to do that as best we can, we had a disappointing performance and result against Limerick on Fri- day night but other than that pre-season’s gone reasonably well. The result on Friday, even though it was disappointing, will sharpen the minds and sharpen the focus of the players.
‘We know what we have to work on, we know what we have to do during the week to get ourselves ready for Friday and make no mistake about it, I’ve been to see Bohs during pre-season and they will have a decent squad. They’ll have a good first 11, and they’ll be strong. The people expecting Bohs to have a poor season will be sadly mistaken because they do have a strong 11 and any team managed by Pat Fenlon will be well organised and well equipped to compete in this league.’
Bohemians however are not the only side adding to their squad in recent weeks. Wanderers have also signed a raft of youngsters including Republic of Ireland U-19 international Conor Murphy and former Shamrock Rovers youngster Dan McGuinness, who were paired up front together for Friday’s 0-4 defeat to Limerick FC.
‘We’d like to think they’d have an impact but they’re two young, quality players that we identified as a club to bring them into Bray and get them involved in our set-up. That’s the space that we occupy, we’re not in the market for players that are going to cost a huge amount of money because unfortunately a club the size of Bray has quite limited resources so the market that we’re in is good, young, up-and-coming players and if we can develop them and give them a taste of first team football then all the better. But they’re certainly coming in to add to our squad. We hope that they can make an impact sooner rather than later. They’re not coming in just to bolster what’s there already; they’re coming in to play. Obviously they have to earn the right to play but they’re the type of young players that we want because its only going to help us and it’ll push the good young players that are there already.’
While Murphy and McGuinness will be hoping to be involved on Friday night, two men who definitely will not be are Gary Shaw and Stephen Brennan.
Shaw is still recovering from a broken foot suffered in January, while Brennan suffered a calf injury at training on Saturday and is expected to be out for six to eight weeks.
Bray Wanderers’ Conor Murphy and Limerick’s Garbhan Broughall in action during the pre-season friendly at the Carlisle Grounds.