Manager: Alan Mathews
Stadium: Carlisle Grounds
Players In: David Cassidy (Drogheda United), Gary Curran (Mervue United), Adam Hanlon (Shelbourne), Graham Kelly (Athlone Town), Jake Kelly (St Patrick's Athletic), Jamie McGlynn (Shelbourne)
Players Out: Jason Byrne (Bohemians), Ryan Coombes (Shamrock Rovers B), Daire Doyle (Drogheda United), Sean Holmes (Cherry Orchard), Kevin Knight (Shamrock Rovers B), John Mulroy (Athlone Town), Kevin O'Connor (Longford Town), Kieran 'Marty' Waters (Shamrock Rovers)
Extratime.ie Key Man: DAVID CASSIDY
The Seagulls were often devoid of a leading figure last year, someone who took the game by the scruff of the neck and rallied the troops, but the arrival of David Cassidy from Drogheda is a real coup for Mathews. The pair worked together at Tolka Park and the midfielder will add quality to the engine room as well as some much needed steel. The 28-year-old played in twenty-seven of the Louth sides’ league outings in 2013 and brings a wealth of experience to the Carlisle Grounds.
Extratime.ie One to Watch: JAKE KELLY
Two years ago, Jake Kelly was one of the most highly rated young players in the League of Ireland. His endeavours were rewarded with a move to St. Pats but things didn’t materialise as he would have hoped in Inchicore and he’s now back by the seaside for a second stint with Bray. During his three seasons at the Carlisle Grounds, he played over 100 times and netted on 26 occasions. He is almost a like-for-like replacement for Marty Waters, who himself was rewarded with a move to a prestigious club during the winter, and his direct running and ability to find the net will be fundamental to Bray’s potency. The 23-year-old has something to prove after a disappointing couple of years at Richmond Park and is hungry to replicate the form he showed here a few seasons ago.
How they did last season:
FAI Cup: Third Round
EA Sports Cup: Second Round
Setanta Sports Cup: N/A
Top League Goalscorer: Jason Byrne - 13 goals
What to expect for 2014:
It has been a winter of reform at the Carlisle Grounds. Six arrivals has somewhat supplemented the loss of eight of last year’s squad but with Jason Byrne, Kieran ‘Marty’ Waters and John Mulroy among those out the door, the Seagulls will have to rely heavily once again on youth. There is a change in the dugout as well, after Pat Devlin left in acrimonious circumstances with former Shelbourne boss Alan Mathews taking charge. Despite the wholesale changes, there is an air of optimism around the seaside ahead of the 2014 season.
The new campaign yields hope that they can draw a line under a largely disappointing 2013 and find the consistency and luck that so often eluded them last term. They are likely to be looking down rather than upwards given the loss of their attacking armoury from last season as well as the tendency to leak goals at the other end.
The weather has somewhat disrupted pre-season preparations, with two games called off, but a promising result against Shamrock Rovers B may be a sign of things to come. If they are to avoid being dragged into a relegation scrap than one would feel a strong start to the campaign is essential. However, the fixture list hasn’t been kind with tricky away trips to Limerick, Cork and Bohemians in between home fixtures against Sligo Rovers and near neighbours UCD.
The odds offered for the Seagulls to lift the title are indicative of the struggle many anticipate they will face, with Paddy Power offering shorter odds on newly promoted Athlone Town and UCD to win the Airtricity League. The uncertainty at the Wicklow club during a turbulent off-season may just have an overwhelming effect on the on-field proceedings come March 7th but only time will tell.
Title Odds: 400/1
First Game: vs Limerick FC (Thomond Park - Fri 7th March 2014)