Harry Kenny trying hard to keep a lid on Bray expectations

Manager accepts form in second half of last season has raised hopes at club

Players from the 12 Premier Division teams at the launch of the SSE Airtricity League  at the Aviva stadium. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho

Players from the 12 Premier Division teams at the launch of the SSE Airtricity League at the Aviva stadium. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho

 

Bray Wanderers manager Harry Kenny admits that he is not quite sure what to make of the news that his team will be competing in the Scottish Challenge Cup later this year but he admits that it might yet prove to be an unwelcome distraction if the club are scrapping for points towards the end of the league season.

“I don’t really know the ins and outs of it to be honest,” said Kenny at the launch of the new league season at the Aviva stadium on Tuesday. “If we’re mid-table it’ll be nice to have something to look forward to; if you’re challenging for anything at all then it could be a hindrance, to be perfectly honest about it. But as things stand it’s a nice little reward for finishing where we did last year.”

The competition will involve the two sides that finished below the European places in last season’s SSE Airtricity League Premier Division. That will see Bray joined by Sligo Rovers, along with under-20 sides from the top flight Scottish clubs as well as first teams from the lower leagues. Welsh and Northern Irish sides participated this year with The New Saints due to play in the semi-finals this weekend.

The Welsh champions are so dominant in their own league that it might not have been much of a distraction at all. Both Irish sides, however, are likely to be under a little more pressure back at home this season with around half of Premier Division sides set to be battling to avoid relegation while most of the rest target Europe or, perhaps, better. Bray, if the hype from the second half of last season’s form is anything to go by, will be safely in the latter camp, although Kenny is a little uncomfortable about the way his side’s prospects are being talked up.

“Yeah, keeping a lid on the expectations is one of the challenges now,” he said with a slightly uncertain smile. “It’s only months rather than years since I took over and we were bottom of the table. Now people are asking us about Europe and about challenging. Jesus, in that short space of time you’d want to be mad in the head to be talking about going from bottom of the table in April to the top of the table.

“Look, we’ve signed some very good players [Gary McCabe and Aaron Greene look to be the pick of the bunch] and I’m delighted to have kept Dylan [Connolly] because everybody knows there was a lot of interest in him and keeping him sent out a bit of a message. But I’d have thought that you do something like that over a number of years and then start challenging but we’ll see. If it all works then great but to do that in a year . . . ”

When it is put to him that his chairman Denis O’Connor is among those talking in terms of a transformation, he laughed. “Look, he’s ambitious and I’m ambitious and we both agreed that neither of us wanted Bray to be hanging around the bottom end of the table, which is where Bray have been known to hang around. So if we can build on what we did last year then we should be okay.

“And if we can improve on what we did last year at all then we’d be looking at something above sixth position and that would be a very good season. If we put together a cup run too then so much the better.

“But you know when I said about dampening down expectations . . . well, he’s one of the ones whose talk I have to put a lid on.”

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