‘A fantastic year for the club’
TIME waits for no man - and that includes Gary Cronin. The 2019 League of Ireland season is yet to conclude but already, the Bray Wanderers boss is putting plans in place for 2020.
His first full season in management saw the Seagulls finish four points shy of the play-offs. He will attend those fixtures with an enviable eye and tips Finn Harps to maintain their topflight status if they do indeed end up involved.
But his main concern is assembling a squad capable of earning promotion to the Premier Division in the next campaign.
‘It’s certainly not too early (to start planning). The only thing that’s too early is that it’s a long, long off-season. It’ll be the longest I’ve ever had. I wouldn’t have minded if we’d won the division like Shels but it’s a long gap so players will do what they do.
‘Players will see what’s out there, but I think Bray is a good place to be.
‘It’s been a fantastic year for the club - particularly off the pitch. It’s a club that wants to keep on growing and players could do a lot worse than being at Bray Wanderers next year.’
Not all of the class of 2019 will graduate. There was plenty of promise shown this campaign but also some shortfalls.
‘I’ll chat to all the players. There are players that I definitely want to keep and naturally enough; some players will move on. That’s the nature of football.
‘I didn’t think we were a million miles away from where we wanted to be this year.
‘We had a gap where we weren’t scoring goals and we were
probably leaking too many, but we left too much behind us. We had nine defeats. We’ll learn from it and we’ll move on. It’s been a fantastic last series of games but our run since losing to Cabo is eight unbeaten - we left it too late and left ourselves too much to do. But well done to the other teams for getting the play-offs and Shels for winning it.
‘There’s a few things with squads - it goes beyond just football.
‘You have to look at the professionalism and the character and make sure that they’re right for the club.
‘The club is forming its own identity and there’s a culture change here and that doesn’t happen in 12 months. It’ll be a two/three-year thing.’
One man who seems well capable of solving Bray’s lack of goals is Shamrock Rovers’ Dean Williams. The striker joined Bray on loan in the summer and managed seven goals and with contact in Tallaght up for renewal, Cronin will be closely monitoring the situation - having already dropped many, many hints.
‘I don’t know how many dinners I’ve brought him for at this stage! It’s costing me a lot of money”, Cronin joked.
‘He’s up with Rovers so I’d imagine he’ll be retrained but realistically he could be out on loan again next year and if that’s the case; I hope it’s with us. I’ll have to speak to Stephen Bradley about that.
‘He’s a player that really, really came out of his shell this year. He’s a goal poacher and his link-up play is very good, so he is a player that I’ll be trying to hold onto.’