PAT ON THE BACK

Bray boss hon­oured for ser­vices to soc­cer

Bray People - - SPORT - DANIEL GOR­MAN Sports Re­porter

BRAY WAN­DER­ERS supremo Pat Devlin was hon­oured for his in­cred­i­ble ser­vices to Ir­ish soc­cer on Fri­day evening as the Soc­cer Writer's As­so­ci­a­tion of Ire­land awarded him the SWAI Spe­cial Merit Award. Devlin is best known for his un­wa­ver­ing ded­i­ca­tion to the Seagulls in a foot­ball ca­reer span­ning over 40 years, and in that time he has chalked up an in­cred­i­ble C.V. Devo has shared his ex­per­tise with Drogheda United and Athlone United as a man­ager and also en­joyed a stint as Tech­ni­cal Di­rec­tor at Sham­rock Rovers but it goes with­out say­ing that it his achieve­ments at the Carlisle Grounds that have earned him the most recog­ni­tion. With Devlin at the helm for the Wicklow club, they have lifted the FAI Cup twice (1990 and 1999) as well as the First Di­vi­sion on three oc­ca­sions (1986, 1996, 2000).

Devlin joined Bray Wan­der­ers as man­ager in the 1985/86 sea­son; Wan­der­ers' de­but year in the League of Ire­land. De­spite ad­mit­ting some hes­i­ta­tion at first, Devlin be­gan to work his magic im­me­di­ately and the Seasiders lifted the Di­vi­sion 1 tro­phy at the first time of ask­ing.

Devlin's next high­light came four years later at Lans­downe Road. 30,000 spec­ta­tors flocked to the home of Ir­ish soc­cer to watch Devlin's side get the bet­ter of St. Fran­cis to claim the FAI Cup for the first time in the club's his­tory.

That would not be Wan­der­ers' last taste of cup joy un­der Devlin though. He led them to an­other suc­cess­ful run in 1999 when the Seagulls even­tu­ally ousted Finn Harps af­ter an en­thralling re­play.

In-be­tween those suc­cesses Devlin en­joyed a change of dugouts at Drogheda, Athlone and Sham­rock Rovers but Devlin re­turned and the year af­ter guid­ing them to their sec­ond cup tri­umph, Bray were en­joy­ing their third suc­cess­ful as­sault on the First Di­vi­sion.

Devlin's flaw­less rep­u­ta­tion saw him elected as man­ager of the short-lived Repub­lic of Ire­land 'B' team and dur­ing all this time he was con­stantly in con­tact with his good friend Kenny Dal­glish for foot­balling rea­sons; which even­tu­ally re­sulted in a club part­ner­ship be­ing formed be­tween Liver­pool FC and Bray Wan­der­ers.

Devlin walked away from the Carlisle Grounds with his heart set on an easy re­tire­ment but the call­ing of the Carlisle Grounds proved too strong and be­fore long he had re­turned to the club as Di­rec­tor of Foot­ball.

Dur­ing 2010, Devlin truly en­graved his name in the an­nals of Ir­ish soc­cer his­tory when he took up the reins fol­low­ing the res­ig­na­tion of then-man­ager Ed­die Gorm­ley in Au­gust. At the time, Wan­der­ers were cut adrift at the foot of the ta­ble and looked dead and buried but Devlin con­jured up a mirac­u­lous es­cape and Bray lived to tell the tale.

Devlin con­tin­ues to work closely with link­ing English clubs to young Ir­ish play­ers and just last year he helped Repub­lic of Ire­land Schools in­ter­na­tional Pierce Sweeney to se­cure a deal to sign for Read­ing from Bray Wan­der­ers.

The word le­gend may be tossed around all too ca­su­ally nowa­days but in the form of Pat Devlin, Ir­ish soc­cer has been blessed with a true le­gend.

Bray Wan­der­ers man­ager Pat Devlin who was hon­oured by the Soc­cer Writ­ers As­so­ci­a­tion of Ire­land last week­end with a Spe­cial Merit Award for his ser­vices to soc­cer over a 40-year ca­reer.

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