Monday 26 February 2018

Bray's demise a big blow for entire league, warns Long

Keith Long believes that Bray debacle reflects badly on the entire League of Ireland set-up. Photo by David Maher/Sportsfile
Keith Long believes that Bray debacle reflects badly on the entire League of Ireland set-up. Photo by David Maher/Sportsfile
Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

Bohemians host Dundalk tonight in a game that was brought forward 48 hours to help Stephen Kenny's side attempt to launch another successful European campaign.

But Gypsies boss Keith Long fears that the positive image created by Dundalk's exploits last term has been severely damaged by the strife at Bray Wanderers.

The crisis at the Carlisle Grounds is hanging over a busy week with three Europa League ties tomorrow and Dundalk in Dalymount tonight for their final league outing before next Wednesday's Champions League date with Rosenborg.

Long - who lost his player of 2016 Keith Buckley to big-spending Bray over the winter - is perturbed by developments by the seaside.

"Obviously it is very disappointing for us all concerned with the league to have this dragged through the mud again," he said.

"We are looking for respect. Dundalk gave us an element of that last year with their European run. There was a good news story for once around the League of Ireland.

Disrepute

"Unfortunately, this sort of news story is more commonplace. You guys (media) question the international management team about why don't they pick Sean Maguire, why don't they pick other lads? These are part of the reasons, in my view, why the league isn't taken seriously.

"It is constantly being dragged into disrepute. You are looking for respect from other codes across the country like the GAA or the rugby. They look at our league and it's laughable some of the things that go on. It doesn't reflect well on any of us.

"There are lots of good people in the league; lots of people who give invaluable time on a voluntary basis and lots of people who work extremely hard to try and improve the product and make it as professional and treat it as professionally as it deserves to be.

"But for this to happen, it's not good enough. There has to be accountability on this, be it at club level with Bray, the people who are running that club, and the association. There are questions to answer."

Bohs goalkeeper Shane Supple shares his sentiments his manager's view.

"I wasn't sure coming back into the game what it would be like," said the former Ipswich player. "It's a good standard, but this has been a real downer the last few days.

"A few lads left here to go to Bray and it was hard to turn down what they were offering but you could see that the writing was probably on the wall from the get-go. It's just unfortunate and shows a lack of leadership at the top."

Long, who played and coached at Bray for a total of ten years, is bemused by their chairman Denis O'Connor's view that there are huge swathes of lapsed fans refusing to come out.

"Bray didn't have the support base so why were they expecting that to change with success on the pitch?" he added.

"It takes years of integration with the community for supporters to come on board. There is potential there but maybe they've done it the wrong way around."

At Bohs, a concerted effort from fans has boosted Long's transfer kitty and he will consider moves for Bray players if they become free.

Yet the Phibsborough side would suffer if things really deteriorated and the Seagulls results were expunged from the record as that would take six points from their total and undo their good work in moving away from relegation trouble.

Long has added to his Dundalk contingent by signing Ciarán O'Connor on loan for the rest of the season after he spent the first half of the campaign with Finn Harps.

He joins fellow loanee Georgie Poynton and free transfer arrival Keith Dalton, all of whom were on the fringes of Kenny's squad last term. But they will not be involved tonight.

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