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Mathews' aim is to survive


Alan Mathews. Picture: Paul Mohan / SPORTSFILE

Alan Mathews. Picture: Paul Mohan / SPORTSFILE

Alan Mathews. Picture: Paul Mohan / SPORTSFILE

HE LAUGHS at the idea that signing up for a likely relegation battle with Bray Wanderers next season is a test of his sanity, but new Seagulls manager Alan Mathews feels he has unfinished business in the League of Ireland.

Pat Devlin's long association with Bray ended over the weekend, when the club confirmed via a press release late on Friday night that Mathews had been appointed as the new manager.

That was just part of a difficult off-season for Bray, who only escaped relegation last season by beating Longford Town in a play-off, with off-field problems and worries about the long-term future of the club.



At least they have a manager in place now and former Shelbourne, Longford Town, Drogheda United and Cork City boss Mathews has already been busy in building a squad for 2014, the Dubliner holding talks with potential signings last night and again today.

It signals a return to the game for Mathews, who left Shelbourne midway through last season, a campaign that ended in relegation for the Reds, and that matter was a factor for Mathews in returning.

"Some people asked me if I was crazy to get back involved again but I have a love of football, a love of the League of Ireland and I wanted to get back in again," Mathews said last night.

"The Shels thing was a factor for me, that experience ended badly and I didn't want that episode to be my last involvement in in the league. That left a bitter taste in the mouth and I think I wanted to have another chance in management, to prove myself," added Mathews, who won four major trophies in his time at Longford and Cork. "I know what is at stake here and what is ahead of me, I know it will be tough next season at Bray but I am up for that challenge.

"I know the kind of player I want to bring to the club, Bray needs to have young, hungry players who want to do well in the league and I will chase up those players.

"At Shels last season I had some older, experienced players who said they had the hunger but they didn't show that on the field, so I think that hungry young players can do well here next season if they are given a chance."

Some key members of last season's squad have already left: between them Jason Byrne and Kieran Marty Waters scored 17 league goals for Bray last season but they have departed, Byrne rejoining Bohemians and Waters heading to Shamrock Rovers, while Kevin O'Connor has moved to Longford Town.



Bray have striker Ismahil Akinade signed up as well as Dave Webster, but Mathews hopes to complete more signings in the coming days.

The entire coaching staff who had worked under previous boss Devlin have left so Mathews needs to build a new back room team, though former Bray player Barry O'Connor will come in as assistant manager.

Bray needed a play-off to stay up last season and Mathews is aware of the challenge ahead.

"You have two tiers in the league now," he says.

"You have the likes of St Pats, Sligo, Derry, Dundalk and Shamrock Rovers, maybe Cork and Bohs as well in one group. But you also have clubs like ourselves, Limerick, Drogheda, Athlone and UCD, who will all be starting out around the same level and it's a test for us all to see how we get on."