Pat Devlin has been with the Irish League for five decades.
36 years have passed since he first took over as manager of Bray Wanderers.
However, despite his extensive experience in the game, in recent months he has faced an unfamiliar challenge.
In November, it was announced that Bray Wanderers and Cabinteely will be united at all levels.
Devlin has been the director of football at Cabinteee and will retain that role in this new organization, which retains the name Bray Wanderers, and the club will play home matches at Carlisle Grounds.
“It’s hard for everyone, the players, the staff, the administrator,” he says. “Everything you don’t usually think about.
“We did a huge, huge job off the field. And we did a great job on the field. “
And what was the reaction to this new venture?
“Many people don’t like change. People like you, some people don’t like you. Some like some players and dislike other players. Some players like beautiful clothes and others like to dress up.
“I think that in the end the results on the field will bring everyone together. I really feel like everyone has accepted this. I think we have sold more season tickets this year than in recent years.
“So I think the results will stimulate people. This is the way forward. At the moment, this is definitely the way forward because it will not change. So you either buy it or you don’t.
“If some people don’t want it, then they don’t want it. Either they come and support the club or they don’t. We are ready for action, we have entered, and everyone who wants to be there is more than welcome. And those who do not want to be there, we understand. “
He continues: “I think there has never been such a thing in my life with clubs. And the challenges are different. There are people, there are ridges, there is equipment, there is equipment. People are released there, they are not released. And then make sure people are not offended. And you will make changes, but you do not want to offend anyone. And suddenly. you offended someone and didn’t even want to.
“It was a unique challenge for everyone. Cabinets are our main partners and will be our main partners in terms of providing pathways, and will always be. We also have the Greystones, who are now our partners from the women’s national league. And we have local clubs that are also our partners. This is a fantastic project and if you take a little time, it will get better and better.
“Indeed, from [Cabinteely’s] in terms of, we were very, very lucky that it happened. And I think equally Bray Travelers is very, very lucky. Because if that hadn’t happened, maybe Bray would have been a little hard too, because [former Bray chairman] Niall [O’Driscoll]who did a great job had enough and wanted to move on and that was his decision. He was lucky that we met someone like that [the new chairman] Tony Richardson who will come on board and help us develop it. I think everyone benefited from this.
“I think it will be successful. Will he be successful this year? I’m not so sure. Need a little transition. Players must come together. Fans need to understand that what we are trying to do is in the best interests of everyone in the area. No more Cabinteely, no more Bray Wanderers, we are all one and we need to agree with that. And this is a big problem, but I think it will happen if we get the right results. “
The merger inevitably meant that the original detachments and personnel had to be reduced. Devlin adds that these difficult conversations with people were the most difficult part of the process.
“You’re dealing with humans, they’re not little robots. You have to go and talk to them. Some people understood this. And some people didn’t realize it. When people look at it solely from a football standpoint, I think we were very, very fair, very understanding with everyone. Whoever wanted to stay stayed. And those who wanted to went. And for those who really wanted to be in it, we found a role for them. It is very difficult to find good people. And all the people in Bray were very good people. Those who wanted to move on, Gary [Cronin] or anyone, they did a fantastic job and we wished them all.
“But we couldn’t keep everyone. It was impossible. Somewhere along the way we had to say, “That’s right, let’s do this.” There had to be changes, and there had to be some drastic changes. And even in the future will have to make difficult decisions. You have to take it from a football perspective. Personally, it was very difficult.
“We’ve put together a fantastic management team, I have Eddie Gormley, I have Paul Heffernan. Now I have brought Kelly O’Neill and John Power. So we are set on success. Now, if we don’t succeed, someone will come to me and say, “Well, we need change.” This is football, you have to put up with it. But it was very difficult, especially with the younger kids, because you were putting together two teams. And our priority was to promote the players Cabinteeee and Bray. And then you have managers who have their own opinions about the abilities of certain players and whom they want to attract from outside. ”
With three full-time teams in the First Division – Waterford, Cork City and Galway – Bray won’t have to compete as they prepare for their first home game against the Lizaders tonight, and Devlin says getting into the playoffs symbolizes success in 2022.
“Now we train on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays and we’re getting as close to full employment as you could be. But it’s a problem for guys who come after work, whereas if you work full time, you have everything available to you. We will give this the right to go. But I think the edge is out [the full-time teams] and they have more stable detachments than we do. ”