League learns from Wanderers friendly
THE WEXFORD League gave a good account of themselves as they volunteered to become League of Ireland side Bray Wanderers' first pre-season opponents of 2013.
Pat Devlin's Seagulls welcomed Wexford's Oscar Traynor squad to a bitterly cold Carlisle Grounds on Wednesday evening last and held their own barring a few sloppy errors as Wexford fielded 17 different members of their panel.
Wednesday's tie also proved to be something of a family affair, as it pitted Wanderers' midfield maestro Gary Dempsey against cousins Kyle and Shane Dempsey who were representing Wexford.
With usual Wanderers captain Danny O'Connor not picked to start, the honour of sporting the armband fell to 2012 player of the year Kieran 'Marty' Waters, and the stand-in skipper enjoyed the first chance but his low drive was parried and then gathered by Wexford shot-stopper Pa Doyle.
Byrne may be in the autumn of his career but he proved last season he still had plenty left in the tank. After 16 minutes Byrne chased down Doyle and the goalkeeper worked it down the left flank. Left winger Eugene O'Brien then attempted to pass it back to Doyle but he hadn't spotted Byrne, who hadn't yet retreated and duly collected the back-pass before steering his effort home.
Shane O'Neill could be set to spend the season as Byrne's understudy, but he served Pat Devlin a reminder of what he was capable of a minute after the opener. Intercepting the ball just inside the Wexford defence, the 24-year-old bombed forward before laying it off to Waters. Waters charged into the area and drew Doyle before returning the ball to O'Neill for the attacker to thunder it into the roof of the net.
Wanderers then gave away a cheap free kick which almost proved hazardous as it was centred for O'Brien, but the winger screwed his volley into the side-netting.
The home defence then fell asleep at a corner kick and allowed Paul Murphy to zip it into O'Brien's path. His shot was on target this time and it flew past Quigley's dive, but Dean Zambra was on hand to deny him as he deflected it away from goal from his base at the far post.
Wholesale changes at half-time from the home dugout had a negative impact on the match as it lost its rhythm and tempo, but Kevin O'Connor did lighten up the rather dull proceedings when he nonchalantly flicked the ball over the head of an opponent and then blasted into the top corner from all of 28 yards to wrap up the scoring.
The match did end on a bit of a sour note when Wexford's Paul Murphy received a straight red card fromreferee Derek Tomney after some advice from his assistant.
Bray Wanderers: Darren Quigley, Dave Webster, Peter Thomas, Adam Mitchell, Conor Earley, Shane O'Neill, Gary Dempsey, Dean Zambra, Kevin Knight, Kieran 'Marty' Waters, Jason Byrne. Subs. - Eoin Hyland for Webster (HT), Danny O'Connor for Thomas (HT), Paul Malone for Earley (HT), Paul Moffatt for Knight (HT), Danny Joyce for Dempsey (HT), Daire Doyle for Zambra (HT), Kevin O'Connor for Waters (HT), Jack Tim Murphy for Byrne (HT), John O'Connor for O'Neill (60), Seán Holmes for Quigley (68), Earley for Mitchell (75).
Wexford League: Pa Doyle, Tomás Mahon, Anthony Russell, Gareth McCurtin, Leighton Gleeson, Kyle Dempsey, Chris Kenny, Shane Dempsey, Eugene O'Brien, Jason Murphy, Paul Murphy. Subs. - James Carthy for McCurtin (13), Gareth Wallace for Mahon (60), Adam Beary for Kenny (60), Colm O'Brien for K. Dempsey (75), Dale Flynn for J. Murphy (81), Ryan Nolan for Carthy (81).
Referee: Derek Tomney (Dublin).