SSE Airtricity League Round-Up Week Ending 2nd July: Storm Clouds Gathering For The Seasiders

Going into their Premier Division clash with Dundalk on Friday night all seemed to be going well for Bray Wanderers. They were third in the league and on course to qualify for Europe which was their aim for the campaign. Maybe the first warning sign of what was to come came during the week when they sold their talented winger Dylan Connolly to Dundalk of all teams for a fee believed to be in the region of €35,000. They were beaten 3-0 on the night but that mattered little given what was to follow. Robbie Benson scored two for Dundalk with Patrick McEleney getting the other. At half time Bray issued a press release saying that this season’s home attendances had fallen well below expectation given the money that had been invested in the team and that as such it meant that something had to give. The news of what that was came on Sunday as the PFAI tweeted that the Bray players had been told there was enough money to cover the wages for this week and that as such they were now all free to talk to other clubs and leave on free transfers. Bray will see out the season with their manager Harry Kenny having to rely mostly now on players from their under-age sides. Three of Bray’s players Gary McCabe, Aaron Greene and Derek Foran put out an Instagram picture with the tag ‘weareforsale!’. They won’t be short of offers. Of course, it also means that had Dundalk waited a week they could have signed Connolly for free!! It is a stunning turnaround for the Seasiders who had such high expectations and who had really pumped money into their team only to be met with a damp response from the Bray public. They should still be able to just about stay up but there is a worry that they won’t see out the season. This is a story to keep tabs on.

Any other week and it would be my lead story but Sligo Rovers picked up a vital three points as a goal after four minutes from John Russell gave them a 1-0 win at home to Shamrock Rovers. That result takes the Bit O’Red up to 8th place. Drogheda United remain mired in the relegation places as they were beaten 2-0 at home by Limerick. Robbie Williams and Garbhan Coughlan the goal scorers. The two other sides in the bottom three – St. Patrick’s Athletic and Galway United – played out a 1-1 draw in Richmond Park. Conan Byrne netted for the home side with Padraic Cunningham equalising. The board of St. Pat’s meet during the week with the future of their manager Liam Buckley expected to be high on the agenda. Given their involvement in Europa League qualifiers, there were no fixtures for either Cork City or Derry City. Waterford continue to lead in the First Division but were held to a 1-1 draw by the in form Shelbourne over the weekend. Cobh Ramblers are second as they won 3-1 at home to Athlone Town. Athlone will be thankful to Bray for taking the attention off them with a report due soon into match-fixing allegations that currently surround the club. Longford Town beat Cabinteely 1-0 while UCD and Wexford played out a goal-less draw.