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Keeping family loyalty at Bray; BRAY W v SHELBOURNE, 7.45.

Byline: PAUL DOWLING

DEAN ZAMBRA will put family loyalty to one side when Bray Wanderers host Shelbourne in the FAI Ford Cup at the Carlisle Grounds tonight.

With his father Garry a mainstay in the Seagulls back-room staff, grandfather Peter has been a staunch Shels follower for decades.

"My grandad is a season ticket holder at Tolka Park and has been supporting them for years. He doesn't support a team in England. Shels are his team" said Dean.

"He's been a fan for decades. He grew up in Dublin. Shels weren't that far from where he lived.

"Growing up, my dad was brought to Shels games but following them didn't rub off on him.

"Peter was at the Premier Division and EA Sports Cup games between us and them in April.

"I know he's always wanting me to do well but he's probably wanting Shels to win too. There's been a bit of banter and fun leading up the Cup game.

"Family loyalty aside, my concern is about Bray being in the hat for the next round."

That's the aim for the 23-year-old play-maker with a last 16 place on offer for the winners.

"With the two Cup wins (1990 and 1999), there's always been a good Cup traditional with Wanderers," he added.

To win it twice, with Bray still considered in some quarters to be a small club, is quite an achievement.

"There's a special place in the heart of all the Bray fans for the Cup. It would be great to do well again this year."

Zambra - whose older brother Ross also donned the Green and White jersey - is one of the Wicklow club's longest serving players.

Having made his debut in the final game of the 2008 season at Sligo, he had to wait until 2010 season to return to first-team action.

"Pat (Devlin), right, and Keith (Long) have done a great job. They've brought players back like Danny O'Connor and Jason Byrne," said Zambra.

"They seem to be getting the right balance between youth and experience. We have lads who are still in school and college mixed with the likes of Darren Quigley and Colm Tresson who've seen it all in the game."

He continued: "Pat and Keith brought in the likes of Gary Dempsey and Matt Gregg over the past few years to help stabilise things.

"But there has been a massive turn over of players, not just at Bray but the League of Ireland itself.

"I think 60-odd players have come and gone since I've been at Bray. But, as player, you just have to get on with whose ever there with you. "I think we've made a good fist of it over the past few years. And hopefully we can continue on for the rest of this season" Football seems to consume the midfielder's life - both on and off the pitch.

He is in a relationship with Republic of Ireland Ladies international striker Stephanie Roche.

The 22-year-old has just finished a superb season which saw Peamount United capture the Bus Eireann Women's National League and Cup double.

Roche also bagged the golden boot with over 20 goals to her name and was selected for the All-Star team.

"She's just wrapped up the season with a load of silverware, so she's making a name for herself in her own right" said Zambra.

"She scored the winner in the Cup final too, so Stephanie's a top player. She's the Jason Byrne goalscorer in the women's game." "Hopefully she goes on to bigger and better things. Peamount are now in the Champions League," he added.

"She's a regular in the Irish squad too. It's been a great season for her. But deserves everything she's put into the game."

CAPTION(S):

A FAMILY AFFAIR Dean Zambra faces Shels tonight, who his grandfather has followed for decades
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:May 25, 2012
Words:639
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