O'Neill fires home
Report by Daniel Gorman, courtesy
A steady but unspectacular start would be the best way to describe this pre-season tussle between Bray Wanderers and Wexford’s Oscar Traynor side.
The finest that the Wexford League has to offer travelled to a bitter cold Carlisle Grounds last Wednesday evening and offered little threat against a Seagulls side that featured 21 different players.
Wednesday’s tie also proved to be something of a family affair, as it pitted Wanderers’ midfield maestro Gary Dempsey against cousins Kyle and Shane Dempsey who were representing Wexford.
With Danny O’Connor not picked to start the match, the honour of sporting the armband fell to 2012 player of the year Kieran ‘Marty’ Waters and it was the stand-in skipper who enjoyed the first chance of the match. Jason Byrne took the ball on the turn and cleverly slipped in Waters down the left and the striker went for glory but his low drive was parried and then gathered by Wexford shot-stopper Pa Doyle.
Byrne may be in the autumn of his career but he proved last season he still had plenty left in the tank. After 16 minutes of Wednesday’s encounter Byrne chased down Doyle to put the pressure on him and the goalkeeper worked it out down the left flank. Left winger Eugene O’Brien then attempted to pass it back to Doyle but he hadn’t spotted Byrne, who hadn’t yet retreated and he collected the back-pass before steering his effort past Doyle.
Shane O’Neill could be set to spend the season as Byrne’s understudy but he served Pat Devlin a reminder of what he was capable of a minute after Byrne’s opener. Intercepting the ball just inside the Wexford defence, the 24 year old bombed forward before laying it off to Waters. Waters charged into the area and drew Doyle before returning the ball to O’Neill for the attacker to thunder it into the roof of the net.
Wanderers then gave away a cheap free kick which almost proved hazardous as it was centred for O’Brien but the winger screwed his volley into the side netting.
The home defence then asleep at a corner kick and allowed Paul Murphy to zip a corner kick into O’Brien’s path. His shot was on target this time and it flew past Quigley’s dive but Dean Zambra was on hand to deny him as he deflected it away from goal from his base at the far post.
More encouraging play from Shane O’Neill lead to the next chance. He hurdled a few challenges as he darted in off the right flank before finding Kevin Knight. The former Leicester City youngster then sent Waters racing down the left but the speed demon’s low rocket skidded menacingly across the face of goal and wide.
Devo made eight changes at half time, with just Darren Quigley, Adam Mitchell and Shane O’Neill asked to re-emerge from the dressing room for the second period. The wholesale changes as always had a negative impact on the match but Kevin O’Connor did lighten up the rather dull proceedings when he nonchalantly flicked the ball over the head of an opponent and then blasted into the top corner from all of 28 yards to wrap up the scoring.
The match did end on a bit of a sour note when Wexford’s Paul Murphy was issued a straight red card by referee Derek Tomney after some advice from his assistant.
Bray Wanderers: 1 Darren Quigley; 2 Dave Webster, 4 Peter Thomas, 5 Adam Mitchell, 3 Conor Earley; 7 Shane O’Neill, 6 Gary Dempsey, 8 Dean Zambra, 9 Kevin Knight, 11 Kieran Waters; 10 Jason Byrne