But it was not enough to deny Shelbourne who took all three points. But he wasted a chance to extend that further — and possibly earn Bray a point — when missing a penalty as Philip Gorman scored a late winner for Shelbourne.
With 10 changes to the side that were put out of the EA Sports Cup by the same opposition earlier in the week, Shelbourne began as if they’d a score to settle.
And they took just 10 minutes to assert themselves. The ball was worked swiftly forward into the box for skipper David Cassidy, who laid it off first time for Philly Hughes to rifle it past Darren Quigley from 16 yards.
The 34-year-old Byrne was the league’s leading scorer a record four times in a Shelbourne shirt, but he showed little sentiment to bring Bray back into this game with a trademark goal to equalise on 30 minutes.
Dane Massey picked out Byrne on the left-hand side of the box and he dropped his shoulder to cut inside Ian Ryan and drill a low right-footer to the far corner of Paul Skinner’s net.
Byrne should have extended his tally even further from the penalty spot on the hour mark. Brian Shortall took down winger Kieran Waters, but Skinner made a terrific save at full stretch to push Byrne’s penalty onto a post and clear.
Shortall would redeem himself with a telling part in Shels’ winner on 82 minutes.
The right-back flicked the ball over a defender to cross for substitute Gorman to head past Quigley.
SHELBOURNE: Skinner; Shortall, Ryan, Paisley, S. Byrne; Kavanagh (Gorman, 63 mnins.), Dawson, Cronin, McGill (Murphy 81 mins); Cassidy (C. Byrne, 90+2 mins); Hughes.
BRAY WANDERERS: Quigley; Webster, O’Connor, Sweeney, Massey (Kelty 86 mins); Hanlon, Zambra, Houston, Mulroy, Waters (Bolger, 80 mins); Byrne (Knight, 77 mins)
Referee: Anthony Buttimer (Cork).