Kelly 84

Flood 21

McCabe 65

Keena s/o 90

D Dennehy s/o 92


Richmond Park
24 Feb 2017

First match of the season, first victory. And what late drama!

New trigger man Anto Flood took first blood for the Seagulls midway through the first period, but despite a couple of chances, the Saints failed to find the Bray net.

The second half proved that Pats hadn't lost sight of the target, as they blasted home three times - only one of which would count, as Graham Kelly's first effort was greeted only by a free out.

The former Bray man eventually claimed a goal midway through, but the match was to end in controversy, as a hefty challenge by Pats substitute Aidan Keena on Dylan Connolly earned him an early shower, and provoked a bout of handbags in the middle of the pitch, with several other names going in Referee Derek Tomney's book.

The main victim was Darren Dennehy, who had been booked earlier and consequently joined Keena, but Bray goalie Peter Cherrie and defender Tim Clancy also received cautions.

And after all that, Conan Byrne had the ball in the net again before the final whistle, but the offside flag was raised.

Aaron Greene had a speculative effort wide of the target within minutes of the opening whistle, but the first serious attack by the visitors came closer, with John Sullivan heading just over, five minutes in.

Just after the ten minute mark, Connolly brought Barry Murphy into play with a lively looking header, and within a minute the hosts had their first opportunity to threaten when Alex O'Hanlon took charge of a wide free following Greene's challenge on Ian Bermingham, but the dead-ball was easily cleared.

Greene had further attempts either side of the quarter hour, but again narrowly off target, before McCabe came into play with a crashing free that bounded off the Pats crossbar and out for a goal kick.

And then a signature burst up the wing by Connolly finished with a cross that found Murphy parrying and Flood in position to slot home.

At this stage it seemed all Bray, as first Kevin Lynch, and then Hugh Douglas menaced Murphy's goal within a minute but without result.

And less than ten minutes remained in the half when Cherrie got his first touch, blocking an effort by Kurtis Byrne, while Clancy cleared away the next attempt, by Conan Byrne a minute later.

But three minutes from the break it was Murphy who was busy, forced to concede a corner when Connolly intercepted a defensive header and powered towards the net.

There was a niggle of concern for the visiting fans as Flood was seen down in the centre just before the break, but he played on for most of the second period.

The Saints didn't look any different on resuming, and Bray continued to dominate, with Connolly again on the rampage, this time foiled by former Bray man Michael Barker, with a tackle the winger felt merited a spot-kick, though Tomney didn't.

Flood sought to double his and his team's tally from a Lynch free, but the somewhat disconcerted home defence managed to clear off the line.

Liam Buckley brought Kelly and Billy Dennehy on just before the hour in hope of beefing up the home attack, and indeed any serious attempts on the Bray goal after that involved at least one of them.

But Pats could do little with a brace of frees too far from the target area, and just after the hour Connolly was cautioned for a late challenge on Gavin Peers.

There was little in the Pats defence, either, that was able to rattle the Bray attack minutes later when Greene and Flood combined well in the buildup before releasing McCabe with a fine pull-back from deep behind Dennehy, and the winger celebrated his return to Bray with a delighful curling shot past the Pats keeper.

Within minutes, Pats seemed to wake up, and Kelly - another seaside alumnus - swung a neat cross towards Christy Fagan who, however, couldn't get enough on it to trouble Cherrie.

With a quarter of an hour to go, a defensive error gifted the ball to the hosts who forced it over the line after close play that included a foul on the Bray keepr, and the Saints remained goal-less.

Bermingham had a half-chance but headed over following a threatening cross by Dennehy, and minutes after that Dennehy and Fagan combined to put Keena in a scoring position, but his shot flew just wide.

With five minutes of regulation time left, Kelly finally broke the hosts' duck when a moment's hesitation showed him a way through past Clancy, and he made no mistake from close range.

But as the clock ticked past 90, a heavy challenge by Keena on Connolly earned the sub a straight red, and - possibly arising from the earlier incident involving the Bray winger - tempers bubbled in midfield, leading to further cautions on both sides, notably for Darren Dennehy whose 25th minute card now came back to bite.

Such early disciplinary weaknesses can come back later in the season and leave players absent when they are most needed.

Compiled by Mícheál Ó hUanacháin

Bray Wanderers: 1 Peter Cherrie ; 2 Hugh Douglas, 21 Tim Clancy , 4 Conor Kenna (c), 19 Kevin Lynch; 5 John Sullivan; 16 Dylan Connolly , 6 Keith Buckley, 11 Gary McCabe (yc); 9 Aaron Greene, 20 Anthony Flood
Subs: 5 Derek Foran, 7 Ryan Brennan (for McCabe 82), 8 Mark Salmon, 10 Karl Moore (for Connolly 95+), 15 Alan Kehoe, 17 Gerald Pender (for Flood 72 ), 93 Lee Steacy (gk)
St Patricks Athletic: 16 Barry Murphy; 2 Michael Barker, 5 Darren Dennehy +=, 4 Gavin Peers, 3 Ian Bermingham; 6 Patrick Cregg ; 7 Conan Byrne , 11 Jonathan Lunney, 24 Alex O'Hanlon, 18 Kurtis Byrne; 9 Christopher Fagan
Subs: 1 Conor O'Malley (gk), 8 Graham Kelly (for Byrne 54 ), 10 Sam Verdon, 12 Lee Desmond, 14 Darragh Markey, 20 Billy Dennehy (for O'Hanlon 54 ), 24 Aidan Keena (for Lunney 68 )
Referee: Derek Tomney

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