Posted: 4/27/2016


         A very early 5.00am non stop from Patricks Quay by the River Lee in Cork ans dropped off at O'Connell Street in Dublin's Fair City three hours later. You can now dirve none stop by motorway all the way to Belfast with no traffic lights..

        I must comment on some fantastic places to eat and drink in Cork. The English Market since 1862. My favourite is Alternative Bread Company, run since 1979 by Sheila Fitspatrick. Fantastic choice of breads and cakes. I enjoyed a great dinner at The Meatball Place on Carey's Lane and a welcoming pub with hearty soup, sandwiches, live music and 'craic'  The Long Valley on Winthrop St.

        From Dublin to Bray is just half an hour by express train and you disembark at an attractive little station next to the sea and the football stadium. Platform 2 is most attracticv with a series of painted mosaics documenting both Irish history and Irish railway history. They run the length of the platform, include British soldiers in 1916, James Joyce in the 1940's and railway carriages, engines and builders including Isambard Kingdom Brunel.  I strolled the promenade and took in the sea air and looked across the pebbled beach and the Irish Sea.

        My friend Larry Mahony showed up after he had conducted a youth session in Blackrock and we walked to Gino's on the seafront and licked a couple of double dip ice cream cones. Off we went in his car full of balls, bibs and coaching paraphernalia down the Wicklow coast to various mostly deserted beaches including Brittas Beach, the most popular with Dubliners in the summer. Some beaches had suffered massive erosion but at least the ones we visited were golden sand and not pebbles. The countryside was full of golden gorse bushes.

         So to meet his wife, young daughter and stray cat, and lunch at their bungalow in Arklow and a nice snooze on the couch to refresh me. Back up to Bray and his favourite fish & chips takeaway at Cassonis. I chose the cod and chips and Larry had his favourite ray and chips. We sat on the seawall before going to The Carlisle Grounds for the SSE Airtricity Premier League match Bray Wanderers v St. Patricks Athletic. It's a neat ground with seats on two sides and probably about 1,000 in attendance including maybe 400 Pats fans from Richmond Park on the South side of Dublin.

         Wanderers were bottom of the league and had fired their manager and were not expecting to win against their visitors. We received a fantastic welcome from the two guys on the gate and from General Manager Martin O'Connor.  The match started off with some sloppy football, mostly in the air. It was like watching Norway in the 1990's !! however it did improve and surprise, surprise Wanderers took the lead just before half time.  Ger Pender  shot under gk Brendan Clarke.

        Nobody expected this slender lead to last but the Seagulls defence stood their ground for another 45 minutes. Peter Cherrie was inspirational in goal.  Near the end Pat's sub Jamie McGrath  lobbed Christie but it struck the bar, came down on the line and captain Conor Kenna cleared it. Phew !! In added time The Saints keeper Clarke got a red card from referee Graham Kelly for bringing down Andrew Lewis outside the box. With no subs. left, Pat's best player Sean Hoare went between the posts

        1-0 was the final score and lifted the Seagulls off the bottom of the 12 team top division. Half the clubs average below 1,000 a match with some as low as 200-300. More fans fly over to Britain each weekend to support teams in Manchester, Liverpool, Glasgow, London, Birmingham than support their domestic league at the gate, which is a shame. 14 of the Republic's 26 counties don't have a club in the two national divisions, with GAA gaelic games having huge support and stadiums nationwide.