Kildare County manager Dermot Keely will finally get his teeth into the meaty end of managing the Eircom League's newest club when the Thoroughbreds play a friendly against Bray Wanderers in Castledermot on Saturday, June 15 (7.00pm).

After weeks of preparing the squad for the campaign ahead, Keely will get his first inkling as to the balance of his side when they face the 1999 FAI Cup winners at Castlevilla's ground.

"Bray are a Premier Division side with plenty of talent and experience so it will be a big test for our lads in their first run out," said the Kildare boss.

Amongst the Wanderers squad is Jason Byrne, first cousin of Ireland star Robbie Keane and one of the most exciting talents in the country in his own right.

Keely is realistic about his squad's chances of gelling straight away: "This is a completely new team and it will take time to get it right, this game is about preparing for our championship campaign.

"It is nice to be playing in Castledermot too, as it gives people in that area of the county the chance to see the team - we do want it to be something for the whole of Kildare and getting around the county is important."

The Thoroughbreds' second friendly will be at Kildare Town on Tuesday, June 18, when they face Stephen Kenny's highly regarded Bohemians (7.00pm).

Kildare County's other pre-season friendly matches include an away game at Drogheda on Sunday, June 23 (After the squad spent the weekend in training camp at Gormanstown College), a home tie against UCD on Wednesday, June 26 (Venue to be announced) and an away game against Leinster Senior League side Glebe North on Sunday, June 30.

The proposed open day at Newbridge on Saturday has been put back as a consequence of the Bray tie and will be reorganised for later in the summer.

Keely's arrival into the Thoroughbred County seems to have made a big impact, judging by the reaction to his presence at the Kildare & District Football League's annual dinner dance and trophy presentation.

"Dermot was warmly received by everybody in the league and his speech in particular struck a chord with the audience, who are all real soccer people," said KDFL Chairman Michael Casey.

"An enormous amount of people have spoken to our clubs about the season tickets and it's creating a real buzz in Kildare soccer."

Work continues apace at Station Road, Newbridge, in readiness for the club's first competitive game against Limerick on Saturday, July 6.

This includes the commencement of work on the covered stand area, with stepped concrete slabs put in place for the installation of seating and the removal of the original roof in readiness for the erection of the new stand's new roof.