SHOOT- OUT VICTORY
A long drive up to Ballybofey on a wet and windy bank holiday evening was the price for the previous Friday night's 1-1 draw with Finn Harps. With one eye on the League clash in Bray on the Friday night and this was one trip we could have done without.
Despite the awful wintry conditions for this summer soccer match, the hosts were extremely well supported. They smelt blood and on a few occasions, it looked like they'd get the win they craved.
When a Harps strike hit our post and the ball rolled agonisingly along the goal line then striking the other post before being eventually cleared, it looked like maybe, just maybe our luck might be in. But nothing is easy up in Finn Park. After a scoreless ninety minutes, there was the nightmare of extra time which also failed to break the deadlock.
And then the dreaded penalty shoot out at the near side of the pitch. The local supporters were packed behind the goals and did all in their power to divert Paul Hunt's attention. But he was truly magnificent in saving twice. Shades of Digger's ghost danced in the Donegal darkness from an other vital shoot out many moons ago in the same arena.
The celebrations afterwards had to be seen to be believed as the players and management hugged the tiny band of travelling supporters. It was so obvious how important this particular win meant. Some people get an adrenalin rush from the new roller coaster in the Tayto Park, others simply follow De Town. Pity one poor, loyal supporter whose car broke down en route home who with the help of AA Rescue made it back to Longford as the sun rose.
A good sized crowd headed east on Friday night buoyed by the Monday night dramatic Cup win.
Bray were coming off a decent unbeaten run and with fatigue an obvious factor for us, many might have settled for a share of the spoils. When they went ahead after just eight minutes, some travelling heads dropped but we were soon back in business as that particular effort was thankfully (and correctly) ruled offside. Lady luck seemed to be siding with us almost immediately when Bray had a man dismissed for an over robust tackle on Stephen Rice. Not for the first time this season we were made to battle against inferior numbers and for long periods it looked like we'd never wear them down. But then on 66 minutes Ben Mohamed ghosted past three defenders before finding the bottom far corner of the net off the butt of the post. It was a super goal and one which was threatening for many games now.
That solo sole goal was enough to bag all three valuable points and with other results going our way, it was but a short, happy jaunt home.
Bray have one of the best locations of any club in the land. It's easily accessible by DART for our Dublin based brigade and even by road, it's fairly handy by the M4/50 with car parking around the walled stadium. Perched beside the sea, it can have a holiday feel to it depending on how well we're playing. However there were no toilets located near to the travelling fans which was a let down. The food available was good enough but slow. Match programme was acceptable (Dundalk won the 2014 best programme award) and the stewards were quietly efficient. The Seagulls get a credible three stars.
GALWAY AT HOME
This Friday night we welcome Galway to the City Calling Stadium with kick off at 7.45pm. The game is being played on Friday night because of the Ireland v Scotland game the following day.
Galway went beaten last week end by talented Cork City outfit but Galway feel the score line didn't do them justice. They're certainly not making the trip to the midlands for a share of the points on offer and as usual think our league places should be reversed. Last year, the same opposition beat us at home but then we have done the same to them. It'll be yet an other close, tight, tough encounter. We're red and black in the face saying by now it but we really could do with more local and vocal support.
PLAYER OF THE MONTH / MAY
Stephen Rice will receive his merited player of the month award on this Friday night. The award will be presented by a McGuinness clan member. The winner of the Clubhouse refreshment prize is Shane Gill.
Our away game in Richmond Park against St Patricks Athletic on Friday June 26th will be broadcast live on Setanta Ireland.