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Darlington disaster has Dempsey determined that Bray beat the drop

BEING RELEGATED once over the course of a career is hard, but former Ireland U21 cap Gary Dempsey is desperate to keep Bray Wanderers in the Premier Division this season ahead of the Seagulls' visit to Shamrock Rovers tonight.

He certainly doesn't want to be remembered as the man who was relegated twice in the same year.

Right now Dempsey is a key midfielder in Pat Devlin's Bray side -- a case of going back to his roots as Dempsey, who had a spell with Everton as a teenager, made his debut in senior football with Wanderers under Devlin back in 2000, the Wexford man going on to have spells with Dunfermline, Aberdeen, Yeovil and St Patrick's Athletic.

Bray's main aim for this season is to avoid relegation, no easy task, but Dempsey says he'll do all he can to keep Wanderers up because of his experiences with his previous club.

"I was at Darlington for the second half of last season and as everyone knows, we were relegated and demoted to the Conference," says Dempsey. "Relegation is a horrible feeling, so I don't want to go through that again with Bray in the same year.

"And I think we have a decent chance of staying up, especially if we play like we did in the last two games. We're still on the bottom of the table when we go to Tallaght to play Shamrock Rovers tonight but we have drawn confidence from the last two games," he added.

Bray got an unexpected but well-deserved win last Friday as they beat second-placed St Pats 3-2 at home. There was no time to rest, though, as Tuesday brought a visit to champions Bohemians, where Bray lost 2-0 but came away from Dalymount Park with a lot of credit.

"Asking us to play the top three of Pats, Bohs and Rovers, with two of the games away from home, in the space of a week was a lot to ask of us but I think we did well," said Dempsey, who signed a contract with Bray until the end of the season after a spell training with Bohs last month.

"Being honest, beating Pats was a bit of a bonus (but) the win over Pats won't count for much if we can't beat Drogheda too."

Dempsey says he still has ambitions to try his luck on foreign fields, though he is settled in Wicklow -- close to his native Wexford -- with his wife and young family. "Something might come up for next season, somewhere like Norway or Cyprus or Malta. That's something I'd like to look into, but for now I'm happy to be back at Bray.

"I trained with Bohs for a while and played in a friendly game but nothing came of that because of their financial position.

"So I was glad to come back to Bray. It's funny to think that I'm back here after 10 years," added Dempsey, who is also keeping a close eye on one young player in particular, as his kid brother, Robin, is making waves in schoolboy circles.

"He's only 14 but Robin is doing very well," says Gary. "He's already been away to a few clubs like Spurs and Everton, he's playing for Ireland too so hopefully he can go far."