ON Friday night, Bray Wanderers travel to Turner’s Cross for an SSE Airtricity League Premier Division clash.
For City fans of a certain vintage, the Seagulls visiting the Curragh Road conjures memories of the club reaching the FAI Cup final for the first time, just over 29 years ago.
Back then, the semi-final stage was played over two legs.
City reached the last four in 1985-86, but lost 8-3 on aggregate to Shamrock Rovers, with the home leg the last game the club would play at Flower Lodge.
It would take three years to get back there, but with opponents Bray in the first division, it represented a great chance to reach the final for the first time.
However, at Turner’s Cross on April 9, 1989, a goal from Eugene ‘Pooch’ Davis earned the visitors a win and a great chance of making the final.
It meant a tough task for City a week later at the Carlisle Grounds, but they levelled the tie as, shortly before half-time, Dave Barry was fouled for a penalty, which left-back Philip Long converted. With no more goals, it was 1-1 on aggregate but, instead of extra time, that meant a replay the following Wednesday afternoon (this was the era before floodlights), with City winning the toss for home advantage.
In the first leg, City had worn what was then their home kit, green and white hoops with white shorts and socks, while Bray – who had green and white stripes as a first choice – had their away strip, white shirts and green shorts. As that match-up had proven troublesome to distinguish, the replay saw City switch to their Arsenal-style away shirts with red shorts and socks, Bray again in their change outfit.
As well as looking different to the first meeting at the Cross, the replay also panned out totally differently, thankfully for City.
Dave Barry – four days before he was due to appear for the Cork Gaelic footballers in the national league final against Dublin at Croke Park – was the key man for Noel O’Mahony’s side, but they would have to wait until the second half to be sure of their place in the final.
Bray had a very effective offside trap and early on, on-loan City striker Kieran Nugent had a goal ruled out, but the lead arrived as Paul Bowdren’s cross was turned in to the net by a Bray defender.
It remained 1-0 until half-time and John Caulfield and Nugent had chances early in the second half before Barry doubled the lead. It was Bray’s high line that cost them, Mick Conroy’s ball behind perfect for Barry to run on to before rounding goalkeeper Josh Moran and finishing well.
From there, City weren’t going to be denied. Barry’s ball downfield led to the third as Nugent pounced after Patsy Freyne’s shot was saved and Barry wrapped things up at the end, taking a pass from Caulfield and firing in from 30 yards.
City would lose the final to Derry City after a replay, but the seeds were sown for the success of the early 1990s.