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Bray appoint former player as new manager after caretaker boss leaves club

Gary Cronin has taken charge after Graham Kelly stepped aside.

Gary Cronin pictured during his days as a Bray player.
Gary Cronin pictured during his days as a Bray player.
Image: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

Updated at 18.13

BRAY CARETAKER BOSS Graham Kelly has confirmed he has left the club, while Gary Cronin has been appointed as new first-team manager with immediate effect.

Kelly spent four years at the club, working in a variety of roles including as caretaker manager both before and after previous boss Martin Russell’s reign, which came to an end last month.

Meanwhile, 39-year-old Cronin — a recent graduate of the Uefa pro-licence course — has agreed to become a permanent manager for the first time, having previously spent eight years that encompassed stints as assistant and caretaker boss at Longford.

Cronin will be in the dugout for Friday night’s FAI Cup second round tie against Finn Harps at the Carlisle Grounds and faces the considerable challenge of turning Bray’s fortunes around following a difficult campaign.

The club are currently bottom of the Premier Division on 15 points and look odds-on for relegation with eight games to play.

Off the field, there have been problems too, with a delay in payments to players prompting strike action, which was subsequently halted last month after the missing funds in question were received.

The club recently underwent a change of ownership, with Niall O’Driscoll taking over from Gerry Mulvey.

“I firmly believe that by working closely with the local community, staff and volunteers, we can develop Bray Wanderers into a club that the people of Wicklow are proud of,” O’Driscoll said last month.

“Having finished a long and enjoyable spell with Longford Town at the end of last season, this was exactly the type of fresh challenge I was seeking,” Cronin told Bray’s official site following today’s news.

“I was very encouraged by the meetings held in recent days with the club’s likeminded new owners, Niall and Tim O’Driscoll, and the work begins straight away.

My firm belief that our communal target of building a football club, rather than merely a first-team, is achievable, especially with the progress in the Academy.

“I’m fully aware we take on this journey together in a realistic manner and this isn’t a quick-fix. However, despite the challenges this season on and off the pitch, I am driven by the project we’re building and positive about a brighter future.

“In that regard, I am delighted with the latest initiatives to involve fans in the new venture.

“As a former Bray Wanderers player, I’m well aware of how passionate the supporters are, so getting those fans back to the Carlisle Grounds, and adding new ones of all ages, will be crucial to our progress.”

Of the appointment, O’Driscoll added: “Gary is an ideal fit for what we’re aiming to accomplish at Bray Wanderers FC.

“Our objective is not just to help develop young players but also coaches.

“Gary’s combination of ambition, qualifications and people skills were evident during our discussions and we believe he is the right person to lead the club on our journey.

Given his career path has involved signing for Middlesbrough from a schoolboy club in his teens, returning to the League of Ireland as player and then coach, he is perfectly placed to impart his knowledge on our squad.

“It is a stated aim that our first-team, though not exclusively, will be developed upon a nucleus of graduates from the St Joseph’s/Bray Academy as well as top quality players to achieve the clubs objective to compete at the highest level.”

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Paul Fennessy

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