‘A fan­tas­tic year for the club’

Wicklow People (West Edition) - - SPORT -

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.’

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