Bray's McEvoy targets Cork Cup scalp
Even by their standards of recent years in off-field drama, this season's dose of turmoil surrounding Bray Wanderers was unprecedented so for the players to be so close to an FAI Cup final says much for their resolve.
Cork City will visit the Carlisle Grounds tomorrow as racing favourites to reach the Lansdowne Road showpiece in November yet Bray, who lost their first six games of the season, have subsequently defied the odds enough times to fancy an upset.
After relative stability at his only previous club, Bohemians, Ryan McEvoy has endured the other side of the game this year since joining the Seagulls.
The manager who signed him in January, Alan Mathews, quit three weeks into the season and his replacement, Trevor Croly, was similarly unimpressed by the club's hierarchy to the point he also walked out.
Before the latest boss, Mick Cooke, took the reins, McEvoy feels the defining moment in the side's revival occurred in July in the aftermath of Croly's walkout.
Player solidarity meant all the upheaval, including outstanding wages to the squad, wouldn't deter them from getting the win in Limerick which proved the turning point.
"It doesn't matter whether our manager was Trevor, Mick or even Jose Mourinho, the players took the responsibility to push on," said the 25-year-old free-scoring midfielder.
"A lot of stuff has happened off the pitch but the results come down to us once we cross the white line. I think people can see how together this team are. We're still not safe from relegation yet but the great run of results has put us in a good position."
Tomorrow's occasion supplies the platform to enhance their achievements further.
"Cork City won't fancy coming to the Carlisle Grounds," McEvoy suggests. "All three of our league games against them were tight and we fancy ourselves at home.
"It's probably the biggest game of my career and would be incredible to reach a Cup final at the Aviva Stadium. Most of our players, including myself, haven't played in a semi-final but we'll be ready.
"Ever since we won the quarter-final, there's been a great buzz about this tie. You try to keep it to the back of your mind for a few weeks while the league games are on but it's the game we've all been looking towards.
"Tickets have been selling well during the week and there's a great sense of excitement around Bray."
Just how they cope without their injured talisman David Cassidy, and the suspended John Sullivan, could shape Bray's destiny in their pursuit of a first Cup final appearance since they lifted the trophy in 1999.
"Bray have been underestimated," noted Cork manager John Caulfield. "People probably haven't given them the respect they deserve. They had a slow start to the league season but they have done phenomenally well."
Bray Wanderers v Cork City, Live, RTÉ 2, 2.00pm tomorrow