Cobh Ramblers Season Preview

One to watch: Markus Gustavsson
One to watch: Markus Gustavsson

Entering St Colman’s Park ahead of the upcoming 2016 League of Ireland season, one can’t help but notice the positivity surrounding the club. On the field, manager Stephen Henderson has brought in noticeable signings including the likes of Rob Lehane, Paul Hunt and the Galvin twins, Evan and Cory. It’s clear that Cobh aren’t just there to make up the numbers this season. They’re aiming high. Promotion will be tough with the sides such as Limerick, Shelbourne, Drogheda and UCD all challenging but with the squad at Henderson’s disposal, it’s safe to say that Ramblers fans are daring to dream.

Stability has long been an issue at the club but the majority of last season’s squad has been retained which is a welcome change. Shane O’Connor, Kevin Mulcahy and Graham McCarthy provide experience in what is a young squad by any standards. Impressive young stars Jason Abbott, Adam O’Sullivan and Stephen Christopher have also been kept and will expect to flourish with another year’s experience behind them. Club stalwart Brendeán Frahill has been forced to move on however due to work commitments and his loss will be felt. Another departure is forward Stephen Kenny, who has signed for rivals Limerick. The former Waterford and Cork City man was excellent last season, scoring seven goals. Rob Lehane will be tasked with filling his void up front, no doubt difficult shoes to fill.

Player to Watch: The story of Markus Gustavsson is a unique one. The Swedish attacker arrived during the off-season from local side Castleview where he had caught the eye of Henderson. The attacker moved to Ireland a number of years ago and began playing in Cork’s ‘Shipping League’, a league consisting of various businesses and amateur sides. As goal after goal came, Northside club Castleview came calling and he joined their junior setup. It was here he was brought to the recognition of Henderson. Scoring the winner in his competitive debut against Limerick in the Munster Senior Cup, Markus could have a large role to play in Cobh’s season and is definitely a player to keep tabs on.

Young Player to watch: Whilst the majority of this Ramblers side is quite young, Evan Galvin stands out as one particular player to pay attention to. Signed from Waterford United along with his twin brother Cory in the off-season, Evan played with Leeds and College Corinthians before a three year spell cross-channel at Burnley. The midfielder returned to Ireland in 2015 where he joined Roddy Collins’ Waterford side. Impressing in his short stint at the RSC, Cobh were anxious to sign him and the deal was completed in January. With a full pre-season under his belt and a solid start to his time in the claret and blue, Galvin is clearly a player with undoubted potential.

Opening Fixtures: Cobh face a difficult start to their First Division campaign and it will be interesting to see if they can get off the mark early. Opening the season with a tricky away trip to Shelbourne, their first home tie sees Drogheda United visit the Great Island. Next up is the journey to the Markets Field to face Limerick before a home tie with UCD completes the month of March. These are arguably the four main contenders for promotion and early point on the board are vital if Ramblers are to avoid playing catch-up.

Players IN: Paul Hunt (Longford Town), Cian Kingston (Crosshaven AFC), Andy O’Connell (Galway United), Evan Galvin (Waterford United), Cory Galvin (Waterford United), Jimmy Griffin (Cobh Wanderers), Eoin McGreevy (CIT), Rob Lehane (Cork City), Ian Mylod (UCC), Markus Gustavsson (Castleview).

Players OUT: Stephen Kenny (Limerick FC), Ryan Goldsmith, Bobbi Donoghue, Shane Hallahan, David King, Brendeán Frahill, Daniel Barry.

The work put in by the board and the volunteers during the off-season has been nothing short of extra-ordinary and the club is clearly heading in an upward direction. It is now down to the players to produce on the pitch and propel the club back to where it belongs.

Review by Thomas Stafford

Cobh Ramblers FC

Cobh Ramblers Football Club is an Irish football club. The club, founded in 1922 and elected to the League of Ireland in 1985, hails from Cobh, County Cork and play their home matches at St. Colman's Park. The club's colours are claret and blue.