INTERVIEW | Coleman pleased as U19s enter the break top of the table

Cobh Ramblers u19 head coach Dec Coleman is undoubtedly in positive form at present. With the side entering the mid-season exam break, Ramblers sit in first position of the U19 Elite Southern Division. The former Cork City U19 assistant manager caught up with Thomas Stafford to look back on what has been a promising few months for the Young Rams,

“I have to say that I’m very pleased. We are probably doing better than a lot of people would have expected. To be honest, I said to the players from day one that we should be aiming high . The better the results we get, the more chance that the lads have of breaking into the first team. My job at the end of the day is to try and get as many of them to make the step up.”
U19 side at home to Wexford. Photo – Steve Alfred
Coleman only took charge of the side shortly before the season began when it became known that Ethan McCarthy was leaving for America. Despite the small honeymoon period Dec and the squad gelled from day one, something that has been key to their success throughout the year so far,
“I’ve been very impressed with the whole squad.  I saw them all play at some stage throughout the years but I still had to get a proper feel for where individuals might play and how we could play as a team. It was always going to be about getting the best out of them rather than trying to put my own stamp on a style of play. I have my own thoughts on how I like a team to play but I needed to see what the players were capable of so the first week or so was just about trying to get them playing to their strengths and not worry too much about anything else. After that we were able to work on specific aspects of the game and each week we focused on a specific element. It has gone really well so far. 
Obviously we had times where things didn’t go according to plan or where we struggled with certain things but overall I’ve seen a massive improvement in everyone individually and collectively. Some guys have ended up playing in different positions to where they may have started the season and we’ve worked on a few different formations too so it has been brilliant in that sense. The players all have a great appetite to learn and improve and that is the most important thing. As long as they want to improve then they have a great chance of success on the pitch and further down the line in their careers.”
It is difficult for Dec to pick out one specific highlight so far given the vast positives experienced. One recent moment does stand out however, a superb goal from midfielder Dave Hurley against UCD. The additional time goal that put Cobh top of the league,
“It has all been enjoyable so far but that goal from Dave Hurley last week against UCD has to be up there. What a way to go in to the mid season break. It was a stoppage time winner against the league leaders that put us top of the table. He smashed it from about 35 or 40 yards in to the top corner. It’s hard to argue against that for the highlight so far! It’s funny as well because we have all seen Dave score some fantastic goals but sometimes he seems to lack confidence in himself to take a shot on. He has had a few chances to shoot from a bit closer in and opted to go for a safe pass instead. Even in that game he had some chances so at half time I said to him he needed to back himself a bit more because he has it in his locker to score from distance. I must say, I wasn’t expecting him to come up with something like that though, he deserves all the plaudits he gets for it.”
Dave Hurley in action against Wexford. Photo - Steve Alfred
Dave Hurley in action against Wexford. Photo – Steve Alfred
With the transfer window also opening shortly, a number of new additions are expected at St Colman’s Park. Given the small size of his squad Coleman is keen to add a couple of new arrivals,
“We will definitely be looking at bringing in one or two new faces. We have a few lads in on trial at the moment who are doing quite well and there are a number of other options we have as well just to add a bit more depth to the squad and keep up the competition for places. The thing to remember is though that we have lots of lads who will be underage for another season so we don’t necessarily need to bring in loads of players. If any players are being signed, it must be with a view for them to play in our senior team eventually.”
The mid-season break is a must in the U19 League due to the Leaving Cert commitments of many players. One wonders whether it has perhaps come at a bad time for Dec and his promising side,
We were building some good momentum up to now but it is also great for the confidence to get a couple of weeks off at the mid point of the season and to see ourselves sitting top of the pile. We can’t take it for granted now though and need to keep working hard. We were off training completely last week but we’re back this week again doing a bit. With the Leaving Cert starting this week not all the players can train all the time now. Hopefully it won’t disrupt things too much for us though and the lads doing their exams can concentrate fully on them.”
The u19’s have called up Joe Meaney from Damien Rowe’s u17 side recently and this progress is a positive thing to see within the club. The former Rockmount midfielder has fitted in nicely and more players are likely to follow in his footsteps and make the move up an age,
“It’s definitely something that we are looking to continue. We have had Nathan O’Donnell, Cameron Harlson and Conor Drinan training with us as well. Joe is the only one who has come in and got some game time but the other lads are really pushing for opportunities. When they are training or in our squads we are looking at them as U19 players so they have the same chance as every other player to play. It can only aid their development being involved at a higher standard.”
Joe Meaney on his u19 debut against Wexford. Photo - Steve Alfred
Joe Meaney on his u19 debut against Wexford. Photo – Steve Alfred
Senior players Dean Swords and Scott McCarthy have been playing with the u19s recently to increase their game time, further emphasising the importance of this team. Dec is happy with this set-up and it is going well for all parties involved,
“Firstly in Dean’s case it has proved very successful. He has scored twice in two games (v UCD and Galway) and managed to get two full games under his belt. This is important to help him get his sharpness back in order to challenge for a place in the first team again. He has been great when he has come in. His attitude has been spot on, he works hard, gets on with all the players and shows real respect to the coaches. From that point of view, if he keeps going like that then it’s only a matter of time before he is back playing first team football. Similarly for Scott, his attitude has been great and he’s been really eager to impress. We’ve only had him for one game so far. If he is in need of game time then he might feature a bit more for us. From their point of view though, I hope we don’t have them too much because then it means they are playing football for the first team and doing well.”
Dean Swords
Dean Swords
Ambition is one of the first words that comes to mind when speaking with Dec and it’s easy to see that this young coach is eager to aim high for the rest of the campaign,
Our aim has always been to finish as high in the table as possible, to go as far as we can in the play-offs and to challenge in the cup. So in that regard, we want to win everything! The real aim is to produce players capable of playing in the first team so hopefully we can do that by picking up a bit of silverware along the way. We all play the game to win and at this level it is important the players understand what it takes to win. If the first team continue the way that things are going then we need to produce players capable of playing Premier Division football. Hopefully then we will have players stepping up to play in the Premier Division next season, if not they will need to be good enough to help get the team there. If we can breed a winning mentality in to the players at U19 level then they will have more of the tools required to be successful in their careers.”
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.