Harry Kenny and Bray head to Cork with ‘some confidence’
Wanderers have won four straight to join Dundalk in second spot
Bray Wanderers manager Harry Kenny. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho
Bray Wanderers boss Harry Kenny believes his side are entitled to travel to Turner’s Cross and Friday night’s meeting with runaway Premier Division leaders Cork City with “some confidence” after a run of four straight wins that has put them level with Dundalk in second place.
“The table doesn’t lie,” he says, “Cork have been the best team; a few very astute signings have done very well for them and they are flying but we are going along nicely ourselves just now.
“We went down there last year and got a bit of a bashing but after some of the results we have had, I think we will go down there with some confidence. They are going to lose at some stage and it would be fantastic if it was tomorrow night.”
Kenny is still missing a few players for the trip with Conor Earley, Kevin Lynch and Hugh Douglas sidelined due to injury but he hopes to have Derek Foran available for the game. John Caulfield is without Jimmy Keohane (shoulder) and Alan Bennett (hamstring).
Both are players whose form has impressed Kenny so far this season. “I hadn’t known too much about Keohane but he’s done really well for them and I thought they’d badly miss Kenny Browne but Ryan Delaney has looked really good – Bennett and himself have looked really solid at the back.
“Conor McCormack is another one who has done well; John has signed well, they look a better side than last year and they have made a really brilliant start to the season.”
His own side’s form has had them mentioned as title contenders, a notion pretty much dismissed by Brian Kerr on television during the week, something Kenny laughs off good naturedly.
“Look, that’s football, everybody’s got an opinion and Brian is entitled to his. I agree, I don’t think we’ll be title contenders but maybe if we can keep on winning people will at least start to take the idea a bit more seriously.
“My aim for this year was just to be better than last season when we finished sixth so I suppose that gets you into sort of top territory but I’ve been surprised by how well it’s gone so far; everybody has. But there’s a very long way to go.”
Seán Maguire, he says without hesitation, is the best striker in the league but the Cork City frontman currently trails Gary McCabe in the goalscoring chart. “Gary’s been fantastic,” he says. “We have him back in playing in a position [centrally, behind the striker] that he really enjoys and he has thrived on it. He’s a creator, great on dead balls and we have plenty of pace up top so that side of things has gone really well for us, I’m really pleased.”
City, though, will be looking at the number of goals Bray have conceded and believing that Maguire just might have a chance or two to add to his tally. Karl Sheppard and Garry Buckley are also in a remarkable run of goalscoring form, though, with 10 between them in the last six league and cup games.
Caulfield remains cautious about the threat Bray can pose, however, insisting that “they are a really explosive attacking side. You can see with the number of goals they have scored, they are scoring goals every week, and they will see Friday night as an opportunity to close the gap on us.”
Dundalk, meanwhile, are in Galway where the hosts have a full squad but the champions are still without Robbie Benson and Seán Gannon. The pair face another month on the sidelines but Stephen Kenny does have Stephen O’Donnell, Paddy Barrett and Niclas Vemmelund available for the trip west where the champions were beaten last season.
Elsewhere, Gerard Lyttle takes charge of Sligo Rovers for the first time as they travel to Drogheda. “It was good to see the team last Saturday and Declan [McIntyre] made some changes in the game too so I saw different aspects of the squad too,” said Lyttle. “We have some short-term targets that we have set ourselves. One or two wins can make a big difference as the table stands and we’ll be aiming to start that on Friday.”
Stephen Bradley and Shamrock Rovers, who announced a new partnership with Corduff yesterday, could do with one or two wins too but they are without Michael O’Connor and Trevor Clarke (both suspended) as well as Paul Corry and Ryan Connolly (both injured) for the visit of Limerick who are unbeaten in their last four league games.
Friday’s SSE Airtricity League fixtures (7.45 unless stated)
Bohemians v Finn Harps
Cork City v Bray Wanderers
Derry City v St Patrick’s Athletic
Drogheda United v Sligo Rovers
Galway United v Dundalk
Shamrock Rovers v Limeric (8.0)
Shelbourne v Cobh Raamblers
Waterford v UCD
Wexford v Cabinteely (8.0)