Awful. That was the blunt assessment of St Patrick’s Athletic manager Liam Buckley after his side were beaten 2-1 to Bray in their opening league game of the season.
The 2013 league champions had a poor season last year, eventually finishing seventh, and the Inchicore faithful were hoping that this season could see a return of form to the side that followed up that title with an FAI Cup victory in 2014.
But based on the performance of the opening fixture, the Saints will again struggle this season after they were well beaten on Friday night at Richmond Park.
And manager Liam Buckley was quite damning of his team’s performance, while also emphasising that they were beaten by a poor opposition, which will certainly raise alarm bells for the Saints.
“Awful, we just didn’t play at all,” Buckley told RTE Sport. “In fairness, Bray weren’t any better. They just lumped it forward.
“It was a disappointing game. Bear in mind, it was the first game of the season so we have quite a bit to work on,” Buckley added.
Soccer Republic analyst Richie Sadlier concurred with the St Pat’s manager’s verdict of his team’s performance and was quick to highlight the defensive mistakes that were plentiful from the home side in the 2-1 defeat to Wanderers.
“How the Pat’s defender, Michael Barker, does not deal with the ball [over the top] is beyond me.
“He had Peers in the centre of the pitch, who could have covered and it shouldn’t have been a chance at all. And it led to the first goal.
“Liam Buckley was particularly harsh on the performance overall but defensively they were particularly bad and his assessment was spot on.”
Bray boss Harry Kenny, on the other hand, was very happy with his side’s opening outing as his new-look side opened with an away win to kick off their 2017 campaign.
New signings Anto Flood and Gary McCabe were on hand to open up a two-goal lead and while they conceded a late goal, the seaside club were rarely troubled by their hosts.
“I’m very pleased with the performance, particularly in the first half where we created a number of chances,” said former Shamrock Rovers right back Kenny.
“I thought we should have come in with more than what we had in the first half, but overall, I was delighted with the performance.”
And Brian Kerr was also full of praise for the Bray outfit referencing the fact that the club had invested heavily in playing personnel in the close season.
“I think Bray have a fair chance of doing well,” said Kerr, also commenting on Monday night’s Soccer Republic.
“It might be a little over optimistic talking about Europe at this stage until we see how the season settles.
“The retention of Dylan Connolly was obviously a big one as Dundalk made a bid for him.
“But it looks like they invested heavily in the team. Getting Bisto [Anto] Flood out to Bray, it was hardly for the sea air he was going back to Bray!
“I hope the public in Bray respond to that investment and go to the matches. Because their crowds have never been big, except for that time that they got to the Cup final under Pat Devlin.”
Next up: Bray host Finn Harps in their first home game of the season at the Carlisle Grounds on Friday night, while St Pat’s travel to face Drogheda at United Park, also a 7:45pm kick-off on Friday night.
Watch: Look back on highlights of the St Pat’s v Bray match, or any of the other League of Ireland games here on the RTE Player: http://www.rte.ie/player/ie/show/soccer-republic-extras-30004171/10693242/