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Bray delight in 'great escape'

PAT DEVLIN hailed it as the "great escape" as his Bray Wanderers side avoided relegation and secured a place in the Premier Division for next season.

Wanderers looked doomed to life in Division One for next season as the side managed just one win in the first 21 games of the campaign -- and Bray had only stayed in the top flight as Derry City had been relegated for licencing reasons so Bray took their place in the Premier at the last minute.

But a revival since Devlin took over from Eddie Gormley in August gave the Wicklow club a chance as they escaped automatic relegation, and in last night's second leg of a play-off against Monaghan United, Bray won on penalties after a 1-1 draw in extra time.

"It was a bit like Steve McQueen, around here they're all saying it was The Great Escape. I am delighted for our players and supporters but I have a huge amount of sympathy for Monaghan," said Devlin after last night's drama.

And the drama was dragged out even longer as the game was delayed for a few minutes as a wall at the Carlisle Grounds collapsed under the pressure of Monaghan fans who were celebrating their goal, an own goal from Bray man Chris Shields in extra time which was cancelled out by Jake Kelly.

"We deserve this for what we went through as a club this year. We had 24 hours to get a team together at the start of the season and though it went down to the wire, penalties after extra time after a play-off at the end of a long season, I think we deserved it.

"I have to congratulate Mick Cooke and Monaghan as they had a great season, it was just a pity that there had to be a loser on the night but I am glad that wasn't us. Monaghan were very gallant and Mick Cooke can be proud of his players," added Devlin, pleased that Shields scored the crucial penalty after his earlier own goal.

"I was thrilled for Chris to get the penalty for us, for him to score an own goal in such an important game was hard to take but he bounced back."