There were massive signs of encouragement on Sunday afternoon as Treaty United earned a hard-fought 0-0 draw at the Carlisle Grounds in Bray.
The away side showed an abundance of character and spirit to secure a valuable point especially as playmaker Sean McSweeney received his marching orders midway through the second period for a second yellow card.
Gary Cronin’s Bray side have been widely tipped for a promotion push this season and boast renowned League of Ireland talent in Aaron Barry, Conor Clifford and Brandon Kavanagh but they were stifled throughout by a well organised visiting side.
In a first half of few chances, Tadgh Ryan showed his capabilities with a big save to deny Richie O’Farrell and while they probed and dominated possession for large spells of the half, the Seagulls were either wasteful in possession with a host of poor diagonal balls with the wind or were dispossessed by an incredibly hard working Treaty midfield duo of Mark Walsh and Jack Lynch.
Walsh, making his Airtricity League return, was particularly impressive considering it was his first appearance of the season in midfield in the absence of Clyde O’Connell. O’Connell left big boots to fill but Walsh was superb in shielding his defence and thwarting the likes of Lovic and O’Farrell all game.
Manager Tommy Barrett would have been delighted to see Gary Shaw’s name absent from the starting team yesterday and although much was made of the performances of his deputy Darren Creaven in pre-season, the duo of Sean Guerins and Anto O’Donnell made life extremely difficult for the former Malahide man.
A hard working Matt Keane fashioned Treaty’s sole first half opportunity as he blazed over following goalkeeper Brian Maher’s failure to deal with a Ludden long throw.
In the second half, Clifford and Kavanagh in particular continued to search for an opening against a stubborn defensive unit. When Kieran Hanlon was replaced by midfielder Ed O’Dwyer, you sensed an onslaught would be incoming from the home side.
While concentration levels were key to maintaining the clean sheet, McSweeney’s rush of blood to the head early in the second half cost his side a player. Firstly, the Foynes became involved with Mark Byrne and received a booking before referee Oliver Byrne showed him a second yellow ten minutes later for a foul.
However, despite the sending off and yet more large spells of possession, outside of a miscued header from Dylan Barnett at the back post and a Brandon Kavanagh free-kick effort, Cronin’s men created nothing of note.
They introduced Steven Kinsella and Joe Doyle with the former receiving a lot of possession out wide but a combination of Ludden’s willingness to block the cross and the positioning of O’Donnell and Guerins in the middle prevented any danger.
One of the most pleasing aspects of the game was the way in which Treaty United managed the game in the final 15 minutes. Considering it was their first competitive game in men’s senior football and many players had limited Airtricity League experience if any, they managed to win clever free-kicks in crucial areas and subsequently kill the game when required.
Driving runs from the likes of Marc Ludden, Alan Murphy and Jack Lynch allowed breathing space for the defence and ensured that they were not overworked.
Overall, the shape and work ethic was superb from Barrett’s charges and that spirit should ensure that they are competitive in almost every game. Obviously, we didn’t see much of Treaty in an attacking sense but that was to be expected considering the level of opposition and the absence of Joel Coustrain. It gives supporters reason for optimism.
Bray Wanderers: Brian Maher, Mark Byrne, Aaron Barry, Andrew Quinn, Dylan Barnett, Conor Clifford, Luka Lovic (Steven Kinsella), Richie O’Farrell, Brandon Kavanagh, Darren Creaven (Joe Doyle)
Treaty United: Tadgh Ryan, Charlie Fleming, Anto O’Donnell, Sean Guerins, Marc Ludden, Jack Lynch, Mark Walsh, Sean McSweeney, Ed McCarthy (Shane Lowth), Matt Keane (Alan Murphy), Kieran Hanlon (Ed O’Dwyer)