Sunday 17 December 2017

Sligo and Bray both in need of a good Friday

Owen Heary, Sligo Rovers manager
Owen Heary, Sligo Rovers manager
Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

Just six games into a new season, tonight's encounter at The Showgrounds brings together two clubs that are already experiencing different levels of turbulence.

For Owen Heary's Sligo Rovers, the situation is relatively straightforward. A return of two points of five outings is below expectations, and it's a painful tally given they could easily have started the campaign with two wins against Cork and Drogheda only for some sloppy defending.

What the new manager needs is a victory that will allow him to settle into his role.

"There is pressure on us going into this game," said Heary yesterday. "A different type of pressure to other games as we are expected to win."

However, he conceded that he doesn't quite know what to expect from a Bray Wanderers group that will make the trip from Wicklow after a chaotic week.

Alan Mathews and his coaching staff resigned en masse on Wednesday, claiming there were issues with payment and adding that they wished to disassociate themselves with the direction that the club is headed.

Bray sit bottom of the table with five defeats and no goals scored and they have now turned to caretaker boss Maciej Tarnogradzki, a Pole who had been in charge of their U-19 side, as a stopgap solution.

They announced the news in a press release which dealt with concerns that supporters have aired about the future direction of a club which changed ownership over the winter.

"Bray Wanderers are fully committed to keeping football at the Carlisle Grounds," read the statement. "There are plans to improve facilities at the stadium, as we understand the importance of our home ground to supporters.

"The board and owners are fully committed, as a priority, to sustaining the club's Premier League status and keeping the club alive financially."

Chairman Denis O'Connor told Today FM that he was unable to respond to Mathews' grievances because the former boss said he was leaving the matter in the hands of his solicitors.

"That makes it difficult to have a public debate on the matter," said O'Connor, who thanked Mathews for his contribution and added that he was sad at the turn of events.

He did concede that the club have problem areas to address.

"There are issues in Bray Wanderers and we are dealing with them and we intend to fix them and get the team doing the job on the pitch in the next few weeks," he said.

O'Connor then added that Tarnogradzki, who has previously spent time on the staff at Shelbourne, would have full control over preparations for the Sligo encounter.

"This guy, Maciej, is a young guy in the club, he's been our U-19 manager for a few seasons and he certainly comes across as on top of his game," continued O'Connor. "I watched the training session (on Wednesday) and I thought it was excellent.


"I thought the psychology was brilliant out there. He's in charge of the team (in Sligo) and he will pick it with no interference from anyone on the board of management."

The picture is far healthier at Cork City and manager John Caulfield is expecting a substantial Good Friday crowd for the visit of Derry City.

Last year's runners up have made a reasonable start to the new campaign yet they are four points off the pace thanks to the champions, Dundalk, making a perfect start.

"In the two home games so far we have been very entertaining," said Caulfield. "Last year we had a gutsy team, but I think this year we are gutsy with a bit more class about us. Our support is phenomenal, the Turner's Cross atmosphere is unique."

Irish Independent

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