So here we go. We have decided to try and get to every League of Ireland ground this season (2016). Can it be done? Who knows, but I will give it a bloody good try (just don’t tell the wife!)
Opening day of the new season, we decided that Bray would be a good place to start. Easy to get too, a nice enough town, the ground close to the station and, more importantly, a town with a lot of decent boozers.
Bray (Irish: Bré, meaning “hill”), with a population of about 32,000, is a long established seaside town in Wicklow, close to Dublin, and popular with tourists and day trippers who like to get in some good cliff walking along the coast line (7km), enjoy the beach views, or hang out in the numerous hotels and guesthouses, shops, restaurants and evening entertainment dotted along the extensive promenade.
Bray is also home to Ireland’s most favourite Olympian, Katie Taylor, the boxing champ who won Gold in London 2012, and has won countless World and European titles. I guess they will build the statue after she wins gold again in Rio.
Ok Pub watch: Overall enjoyed all the bars I drank in, no problems, good vibe and all were pretty decent establishments. Bray definitely is a good place for a beer crawl, and hopefully will be back again in the near future.
Hibernia Inn, Bray
Address: 1, Royal Marine Terrace, Strand Rd, Bray, Co. Wicklow
First bar of the day, handy location and in close proximity to the Dart, kind of hard not to have a pint here! Very enjoyable pint, good service, nice and clean décor. Not much of a crowd in. Menu looked a bit pricey, or at least too pricey for us…..
Great views of the Bray seaside tough, and have been in this bar before so it can get a good atmosphere and not a bad place for a few beers.
The Porterhouse Bar, Bray
Address: Strand Road, Bray, Co. Wicklow, Ireland, Strand Rd, Bray, Co. Wicklow
The porterhouse are a chain of bars that have a reputation for serving craft beers and holding a lot of good time music events.
Bray was where it all started, having the first Porterhouse way back in 1989
Since then they have opened up bars all around Ireland, London and in New York. And have even started to brew their own range of popular beers
Just a few minutes from the station and on the promenade, looked pretty inviting from the outside. A lovely view of the Bray seaside, and with plenty of room to sit outside, but we decided to sit at the bar, as we usually do!
Had a German beer, and ordered some food, fish n chips. The meal was pretty good, albeit a bit pricey for the smallish portion I got, but hell it did the job as I was full and didn’t have to eat again for the rest of the day/evening.
Interior looks fantastic, homely, a welcoming cosy vibe going on with a decent sized crowd in.
Good friendly service, and didn’t have to wait too long for the food and pint
I enjoyed my food and pint here, busy but plenty of secluded spots for a quiet chat. If am ever back in Bray again I definitely will return.
Shillelagh Bar, Bray/Stacks Sports Bar
Address: Quinsboro Rd, Bray, Co Wicklow, Ireland
Not a bad place, good lot of cool sports and music memorabilia on the walls, had the horse racing on the go when I was there, good pint, friendly bar man, nice and relaxing place.
Boomerang Bar, Bray
Address: Quinsboro Rd, Bray, Co Wicklow, Ireland
Perhaps my favourite bar of the day. Lot of sport going on at the time on the many Tvs dotted around the pub. Was German and English football, horseracing, some gah…..the world is your oyster, fantastic. Good atmosphere in the pub. Lively crowd and all good fun. Nice pints too. Liked it.
Ardmore Bar, Bray
Address: R761, Bray, Co. Wicklow
This place was buzzing, of all the pubs that we visited this had the biggest crowd in. Very jovial atmosphere, nice pints, good craic, has a nice décor going on, not a bad place with a good friendly vibe to it. Liked it.
Goldsmiths Pub, Bray
Address: 3 Quinsborough Rd, Bray, Co. Wicklow
Final pre match pint was in Goldsmiths, a fancy looking pub from the outside anyway, decent atmosphere with a good sized crowd in, good pint, nothing to complain about!
Bray Wanderers F.C.
Arena/Stadium: Carlisle Grounds
Manager: Mick Cooke
Leagues: League of Ireland Premier Division
Bray Wanderers F.C., who play in green and white and are otherwise known as the Seagulls, are a Wicklow team playing out of the Carlisle Grounds in the lovely seaside town of Bray. You will often find the club propping up the back end of the League of Ireland Premier Division for most of the football season, yet somehow always surviving relegation. But it’s not all doom and gloom, the club have won two FAI cups, in 1990 with a 3-0 win over non-league St Francis FC, and in 1999 over fellow perennial strugglers Finn Harps 2-1, in no large part to the talents of their legendary manager Pat Devlin, who guided them on both occasions to silverware, and who has managed the club on five separate occasions.
Bray made history with that 1999 win. The first team in the league of Ireland to win the cup and also to get relegated in the same season. Yeah, it’s hard to be a Bray Wanderers fan!
Playing out of the small but quaint Carlisle Grounds (7,000/3,185 seated), the team were founded in 1922 but in its present incarnation it really all began in 1942. The Carlisle, is situated close to the Dart station, and is one of the coldest grounds in the LOI, its closeness to the seaside, an Irish sea making it cold throughout the year, Costa del Sol this aint. The ground is also used for international rugby league games and had a bit part as a “body double” for Croke Park, in the Michael Collins blockbuster, where the Bloody Sunday scene was shot.
Recently there has been a lot of shenanigans going on as new directors and ex directors fight it out in the press and behind the scenes, and this was evidenced at the club last season (2015), where Bray had not one, nor two, but actually five managers (including caretaker manager) taking over first team affairs, before finally settling for Mick Cooke, the present man in charge. Despite this the team did relatively well, finishing a very respectable 8th, four places off the bottom, considered a success for the Wanderers!
Train watch: Bray is easy enough to get to via the DART, best thing is to go to Pearse Station or Connolly and work it out from there. The DART goes to Bray every 15 or 20 minutes.
By car: take the N11 from Dublin
Ok so what about the actual game we went to see?????
Bray Wanderers 1 – 3 Dundalk
Good start from the champions Dundalk who looked like they were in second gear, going through the motions at times, didn’t really have too many problems dispatching a pretty disappointing Bray team.
For Dundalk Ciaran Kilduff scored within five minutes so Bray were already on the back foot early on. Kilduff got another in the first half while Ronan Finn finished it off late in the game with a shot outside the box that took a slight deflection. Finn looked lively all game.
Dean Kelly got one for Bray from a smart free, but that’s about all the Seagulls did in this game. Bray had a man sent off as well, for a silly tug,so that didn’t help matters.
Was with the Dundalk support first half. Great fun, a bit of pyro which is always welcomed, and some good colourful chants as well. Went over to the Bray side for the second half, a bit quiet which was fair considering how the game was panning out.
Overall, decent enough game, Dundalk looked good, and a good first start to a new and hopefully exciting LOI season 2016.
Interview with Jake from the “Na Fánaithe”
My name is Jake
Well I was kind of dragged down here as a 5 year old
And I have been here ever since, I have been here 18 years for my sins
And I wouldn’t miss Bray, Friday or Saturday, its just something I do every week
And the group that you follow, the ultra-group, what’s it called?
Na Fánaithe, well we are kind of struggling a bit at the moment
The last couple of seasons numbers have been down
There is just not an awful lot going to the games anymore, like, so it’s kind of been difficult, we are not really active as much as we’d like to be
But look hopefully with time that will change
What brought you into the League of Ireland?
Well Growing up my da was a Rovers supporter, cause he is from Dundrum so the Milltown thing and when they left Milltown and all the trouble that went with them
He said he would never go back to see rovers again and
Him and my mother moved out here and its kind of this is the way its been ever since
He is a season ticket holder 20 odd years now himself, but he’d never go back to Rovers
What was the Best season since you followed them all those years?
It was probably…….see we are not used to success, so ’99 (Cup win) was good
Now I was only very young when it happened but to win something was obviously very good
Apart from that I don’t really remember…….Last year was probably the best, I know there was stuff off field, but the season we had…..Cup semi-final, mid table finish, we couldn’t complain too much, but that’s what we are kind of looking at most seasons
And 2016, what you think?
Squad of players, now I know tonight didn’t go to well, squad of players you’d be looking kind of higher mid table, pushing for European places and maybe a decent cup run………………….hopefully!
But you were playing the champions tonight though
Yeah, I know, I wouldn’t be too harsh, a lot of new players, you know gelling them and stuff
The champions who got a beaten, a good beaten last week (lost in Presidents Cup) so they were always going to bounce back and be a different side this week and we were just unfortunate that we were the team that were facing them
Bray player to look out for?
Two, two of them. Drew Lewis, striker, and Dylan Connolly, Winger, the two of them came on, but they obviously didn’t get a lot of time
But they are definitely two to look out for the rest of the season
Last year was a bit hectic off the pitch, is it a bit more solid this year?
To be honest, I wouldn’t say it was too hectic off the field
There is a group of people who used to be involved in the club and, obviously with new owners coming in and new people running the club, they didn’t like the changes that were been made, and all changes that were made there was a complaint so you know what it is with the way we went last year and the players we signed, it just sounds like they are a kind of bit jealous that they are not fully involved as much as they were
That’s my opinion, but I said it before, and I’d say it again, the right people are in charge of the club at the moment
Who would you consider rivals, what’s the club you hate?
There are a few!
For years we had this kind of rivalry going with Drogheda, but now its died down a lot, but we did kind of have a rivalry with Drogheda but I HATE UCD
I don’t know! We never really get a result against them, and they are probably the closest club to us, but I don’t like UCD!
Don’t like Rovers
Nobody likes rovers!
Don’t like rovers at all, actually can’t stand them!
But I prefer bohs any day of the week to Rovers
Don’t like Cork, either
Very few teams I do like!
Any team you do like, apart from bray?
I like Bohs to be honest, I do like Bohs
And to be fair, I actually have a soft spot for Galway, there always kind of there or there abouts you know, and its good to see them back up in the Premier Division
So what would be considered a good season, 2016? My last question!
A good season? An extended cup run, like last year and push on for Europe
Push on for Europe?
To be fair, listen, for the squad of players you got there we should be doing alright but hopefully, we will see!
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