Davin O’Neill “We can’t afford passengers, not today, today we get at ‘em”

Down through the years Cobh Ramblers vs Finn Harps has always been the game to watch and tomorrow will be no different. The last 12 games between both sides have it at 4 wins each and 4 draws. So who will take the lead in the stats after tomorrow’s game. To get a idea of what this game will be like we spoke to Cobh Ramblers legend Davin O’Neill about the battles between the sides in the past.

Coming from a Cobh family of footballing legends Davin has both watched and played in some of the toughest games that Ramblers encountered over the years and says games against Finn Harps have always been stand out games.

“Without a doubt they were always hard fought games against Harps down the years. I remember watching a tape when I was younger of the 1983 FAI Cup Quarter Final at home which was against Finn Harps. My Dad and uncle were playing that day so I grew up hearing all about those matches from a young age and it was Harps who we were directly competing against in 2007 when we won the 1st Division. I remember they beat us 1-0 in Ballybofey to go ahead of us by a point at the top with 6 games left to play in the season, that was a big shock to the system as we hadn’t lost a league game in 28 games after losing the first two of the season, we had gone on a great run so it was theirs to lose after that as such. Then with two games to go and still a point ahead at the top they played Athlone at home and it was live on TV at the time which I know you wouldn’t see nowadays, they don’t show much 1st Division anymore, but it meant we could keep one eye on it, they drew with Athlone 1-1 and I remember jumping around the sitting room at home as Athlone went 1-0 up – Harps equalised in the 2nd half for the draw which meant we could go top with one game to play as long as we did the business against Monaghan at home.. and we did! Everyone knows what happened next in Athlone where a win would see us crowned……”

The 2007 season is one that will live with Ramblers fans for a long time but even more so for Davin as he was also Ramblers top scorer that season with 14 goals and just one goal behind the league’s top goal scorer Conor Gethins (Finn Harps). The stand out Ramblers vs Harps game for him though comes a season later;

“There’s one in particular that stands out in the league up in Ballybofey in 2008 when we were in the Premier Division and fighting for survival and in the last phase of games. With all sorts of things going on within the club financially and otherwise, we went to Donegal forgetting all the negative things going on and managed to grind out a 2-2 draw after going 2-0 down and equalizing with the last kick of the game – now you would think the normal reaction would be of elation, delighted with the last gasp equalizer and a great result but unfortunately the atmosphere was different and wasn’t in line with what we had just achieved. Maybe a sign of what was to come but still not easy to witness or be part of.”

Davin O'Neill
Davin O’Neill

With just one game played so far this season Finn Harps will be even more up for this game even after the 6 hour-ish journey to Cork.

“No doubt that travelling that distance has an effect on your energy levels I don’t miss them long journeys but as a home team you cannot think along those lines you must focus on you and do the job at hand.

When I played Finn Harps were always a balanced team,  old school hard as nails type, solid centre halves, lads with 300+ appearances behind them so experienced and lads who would die for the jersey, vocal and guiding everyone else and then you had the nippy clever goal scorers and wingers who’d run all day. Always a physical team and passionate about the club they were playing for, never easy to overcome.”

Davin has been in the dressing room many times under Stephen Henderson and thinks Stephen will have the team ready and well drilled ahead of tomorrow’s match.

“If I was given the dressing room to speak in tomorrow for 30 seconds I’d say lads we go into this knowing that we are in for a fight for these 3 points so we must be ready and up for that fight before we do anything else and if there’s anyone in here who isn’t up for that then there’s the door. We can’t afford passengers, not today, today we get at ‘em, get in their faces, do things quickly and from the get go and don’t let them settle into the game. That’s got to be for 90 minutes. They don’t want to be here, 500 miles from home on a cold night in Cobh playing against you and with nothing to show for it at the end. Make them hate coming here!”


Catch the game tomorrow evening in St. Colman’s Park. Kick-Off 7:45pm.

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.