Saturday night sees Cobh Ramblers host Athlone in the latest round of First Division action. This tie wouldn’t have been thought of as a ‘third against fourth’ battle before this season began but these two clubs have produced highly impressive seasons to date and the meeting in St Colman’s Park is indeed just that. With seven games remaining both sides are well in the hunt at the upper end of the First Division table and this encounter may well be a fixture repeated in the play-off series to come. The game takes place on Saturday to avoid a clash with the Ireland U21 side’s meeting with Turkey in Turners Cross on Friday.
The Rams secured a last-gasp win against Treaty last time out, Brendeán Frahill heading home his second goal of the campaign to grab a 1-0 win in added time. The first win in five for Shane Keegan’s outfit was a huge three points for Ramblers which could well prove vital. Athlone for their part picked up a 2-1 win in Waterford, the ever-impressive Frantz Pierrot notching his 19th of the season in the process. Cobh’s points tally of 45 is two above the midlands outfit, with Wexford a further four points back in the final play-off position. Treaty, Longford and Bray also remain in contention as the play-off race really heats up in the final quarter of the year.
These sides have met three times already in 2023, with Ramblers picking up a win, a draw and a loss. The last meeting was a 3-2 thriller in Lissywoolen back in June when Wilson Waweru’s late winner completed a comeback from being 2-1 down. Ramblers remain without James O’Leary for the game but should have a full cohort available otherwise.
Cobh manager Shane Keegan spoke about the fixture earlier in the week,
“Firstly looking back at last week’s excitement against Treaty. We had three successive draws recently where I thought we were the better side in each game and probably deserved to win them all, but we didn’t get over the line. Last week then was the exact opposite. We were far from our best, especially in the first half. The second half was better but not enough to say we deserved to win the game. The determination and grit shown by the players to turn a below par performance into three points was outstanding and augurs well for the remaining games.
I don’t often single out particular players but Brendeán Frahlll deserves huge credit. For him to pop up with the winner was outstanding. It’ll be different guys stepping up every week from here on in who perform a ’Frahilly’ and take the game by the scruff of the neck themselves.
Looking to Athlone, like ourselves they’ve had a massive turnaround this year to compete for play-off spots. They’re an interesting case study on how to improve yourself in this league. The pool of players here in Ireland is very small and everyone is after the same guys. Athlone have gone down a different route. It was a gamble but it has certainly paid off. Perrot is getting the headlines but there are a lot more than him. Players who have done outstandingly well in our league. But hopefully they have no success on Saturday.”
Kick-off is at 19:45 in St Colman’s Park, with the game also live on LOITV
Match Sponsor – Cobh Credit Union