The perfect match
Bray Wanderers to be officially based at Enniskerry YC
Enniskerry YC and Bray Wanderers have formed a partnership that should see both parties reap the benefits for years to come.
Wanderers had been training at Enniskerry's Berryfield Lane venue throughout pre-season and it will now be their official base going forward.
For Enniskerry, their Patsy Carr Academy will be treated to coaching sessions from the likes of Hugh Douglas, Ger Pender and Dylan Hayes as both clubs try to forge a working relationship.
On the senior side of things, it is hoped that Seagulls players that have graduated from Bray's underage teams but aren't ready to join Dave Mackey's side can go to Enniskerry YC's and further their development there under the watchful eye of Enniskerry's Lar Mahony.
Director of Football at Enniskerry, Alan King - a former Wanderers underage star himself - is delighted with the link and the opportunities that it will present.
"They want to use our facilities and Dave is very keen to base the team locally which is great to hear. He chose us which speaks for itself because we have probably one of the best facilities in the country. Bray are keen to get involved in our Patsy Carr Academy as well which is for four to seven-year-olds.
"It'll give the kids an opportunity to have a meet-and-greet with the players and give them something to aspire to. Not everyone in our academy will go on to be a footballer in the future but they can at least see the players down the Carlisle on a Friday night and then train with them here the next morning - it's exciting for them.
"The plan is to build and to help each other"
But it won't just be the academy stars profiting. Enniskerry have plans to add an U-19 team to their ranks in the future and they - and the senior team - can act as a filler between the underage and senior squad for Bray Wanderers.
"Players that come out of SJB 17's or Joey's 18's and aren't quite ready for the step-up to the national league can come here and play for our 19's or even straight into our senior team possibly. That's under the tutelage of Lar Mahony who is a UEFA A Licensed coach and ex-first team coach at Shamrock Rovers and Bray.
"It'll give a pathway to players who players may not be physically ready for the League of Ireland or whatever reason and now they can come here. If it doesn't work out for lads in the League of Ireland, then we're a good club to come to after that."
King himself, Daniel Blackbyrne and Alan Young (an FAI Cup medal winner) have all progressed from Enniskerry to the Carlisle Grounds before and King is hoping more will follow suit in the future.
"It'll take time. There's no time limit on it. We're trying to put foundations into the academy that'll hopefully be here for years to come - after my time hopefully.
"Our main thing is that we want to be a club that Enniskerry and the surrounding areas can be proud of. We want to be a good football club."
Bray Wanderers and Enniskerry met in a behind closed doors friendly last week which saw Mackey's side emerge 0-5 winners. Karl Mulligan, a current prospect at Enniskerry, is expected to sign for Bray's U-19's in the summer - all signs of a budding relationship.
For Dave Mackey, a local heartbeat is vital for his plans to bring Bray to the next level.
"Delighted to have the local link. It's very important to me that Bray Wanderers are based in the local community and the fact that we're training here is terrific. I'm delighted with the facilities. We've a great relationship with Alan King and the crew here and we want to grow and develop the relationship going forward.
"The facilities are superb. The players are delighted here and Enniskerry have been very accommodating to us. You can see here on a Saturday morning with the Academy going full tilt and we've been allowed to use the pitch. There's great cooperation from both parties and I know it will be a fruitful relationship going forward.
"There has to be a community feel. For a club like Bray to thrive, players need to be recognised and the players are keen to be ambassadors for the club and that's what we want.
"We're delighted to be a part of this. The Joey's link is a terrific link and another strategy within the club but we have a responsibility to make sure that we're visible across Wicklow.
"It's a joint effort. We're very happy with the arrangements. Everyone has the same idea in terms of making sure that Bray is visible in the community."
The link between Enniskerry and Bray will have no impact on the Joey's agreement as evidenced by the endorsement of the partnership by Joey's on social media. With the foundations of a relationship now formed, the next step is to watch it flourish.