Sunday 05 July 2020

CorkHi14°| Lo

Cork Independent

Sport

Cobh geared up for new season

Wednesday, 19th February, 2020 3:48pm

Although the Premier Division of the SSE Airtricity League kicked-off last week, this weekend the First Division will have lift-off with the first round of fixtures. Cobh Ramblers had a mixed season in 2019, fishing in sixth place in the league, while the club also saw the departure of long-term boss Stephen Henderson in June.

Stuart Ashton, a name synonymous with soccer throughout the country thanks to his coaching pedigree and vast knowledge of the game, took over the reins for the remainder of 2019.

Ashton had served as assistant manager under Henderson since 2017, and he has since been permanently appointed as first-team coach on a two year contract with Cobh.

With a fresh start for the new season ahead, Ashton says he is looking forward to the challenge the year will bring.

“Things are looking good. There's a great dynamic among the team, the majority of lads from last season are here and we're after bringing a few lads in to the side and I think they can see where we're trying to go with this. They're a young side, yes, but this is what I'm always telling them – age doesn't matter when you get on to the pitch, no one worries about that.

“You have to be a grown-up when it comes to playing and the best place to gain experience in that sense is by playing. But they're a good bunch I have to say, there's a good dynamic there,” he suggests.

“It's always difficult when you're bringing new players in and you don't want to upset the good dynamic that's already there, but thankfully that hasn't been the case at all!”

Ramblers' season suffered a hiccup last week with a 1-0 loss to Carrigaline United in the Munster Senior Cup. Although Ashton concedes it was far from the ideal result, he says it also gave his team a chance to reassess their position ahead of Saturday's league opener.

“The Carrigaline match wasn't ideal preparation for us,” continues Ashton, “the lads know themselves that it wasn't the sort of performance we're looking for. We had training a couple of nights this week and it was important to speak about it.

“The mood is good in camp but it's also up to us, the management, to get it right so a conversation had to be had about it. But then it's time to park it and move on.

“For us I guess, it was a competition where we could have gone further but now we just have to learn from our mistakes and move on. It was a reality check, though, and maybe it came at the right time. The reality being that maybe the lads can see now that they are not as far forward as they think.

“Training has been going well and the lads have played well in pre-season friendlies but the Carrigaline match...it wasn't the type of performance that we're about.” Ramblers welcome Drogheda United to St Colman's Park on Saturday night. The Louth-based side finished 2019 in second place and failed to secure promotion in the play-offs, losing 2-1 on aggregate to Finn Harps and Ashton is well aware of the battle his side faces in their opening match of the season.

“You're not going to find much better sides than them in the league, it's certainly a tough opener for us. If you look back at last season, they'll have been disappointed to not get promotion to the Premier Division having come so close.

“They'll be one of the favourites to be there or there abouts come the end of the season so I'm expecting a tough competitive opening against them so that's what I've been preparing the lads for.” Steve O'Leary is suspended for the match while Ashton confirmed he has a number of injury concerns: “Bryan Murphy, Cameron Harlson and John Kavanagh are all worries at the moment while Conor Drinan has picked up a bug so we'll have to make a call on them closer to Saturday.”

As for his 2020 ambitions, Ashton says winning is always the goal at the start of any season but that 2020 an important year for Cobh both on and off the field. “We're no different to any other club in that we want to win. I think if you asked any of the other teams what their hopes for the season ahead are, they'd tell you they want to win it. Looking at the league and the cup, then yeah – of course we want to win it! But you also need to have realistic goals and this is a very strong league and it's hard to get out of.

“There are teams who have bigger and better budgets than we do that have the so-called 'better players'. We're striving to be a bigger club so that's certainly a goal,” he adds.

Ramblers have made a raft of new signings, among them Lee Devitt, Martin Coughlan, Pierce Phillips, Darryl Walsh, Adam Foley and Dylan Walsh but who does Ashton have his eye on to grab the headlines for his side?

“I'd love them all to be grabbing the headlines every week!” he says with a smile, “but that's up to the lads themselves to go out and make sure they're the player who people are talking about. I wouldn't pick an individual, I want all of the team to perform well.”

And as for himself?

“I'm loving it – from my point of view this season is all about progressing and moving up. We had a long break since the end of last season with a lot of training and now we're getting down to the nitty gritty at last! We'd love to have a big crowd down at the match. The club is building and a lot of that depends of the community getting behind the team. Hopefully we can give it a go and give the crowd a good game and result.”

Cobh Rambers and Drogheda United meet at St Colman's Park on Saturday 22 February. Kick-off is at 7pm.

ePaper Service

Page 1 Page 2 Page 3 Page 4 Page 5 Page 6 Page 7 Page 8
Desktop, Tablet & Smartphone friendly
Cookies on Cork Independent website
We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. We also use cookies to ensure we show you advertising that is relevant to you. If you continue without changing your settings, we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies on the Cork Independent website. However, if you would like to, you can change your cookie settings at any time by amending your browser settings.
How does Cork Independent use cookies?
Cookies enable us to identify your device, or you when you have logged in. We use cookies that are strictly necessary to enable you to move around the site or to provide certain basic features. We use cookies to enhance the functionality of the website by storing your preferences, for example. We also use cookies to help us to improve the performance of our website to provide you with a better user experience.
We don't sell the information collected by cookies, nor do we disclose the information to third parties, except where required by law (for example to government bodies and law enforcement agencies).
Hide Message