Ten Year Anniversary of First Division Title Win

Famous scenes on a previous night in Athlone as we won the 2007 First Division title.

“The 2007 Eircom League of Ireland First Division title is heading south, as Cobh Ramblers secured the three points they needed to win the division by beating Athlone Town at Lissywoolen.

Kevin Murray eventually proved to be the Ramblers hero when his first league goal of the season sparked wild celebrations among the large travelling support that flooded onto the pitch at full time.” – RTE, 9th November 2007


It’s hard to believe but today marks ten years to the day since Ramblers secured the 2007 League of Ireland First Division title. In front of hundreds of Cobh fans at a packed Athlone Town Stadium, a 73rd minute strike from defender Kevin Murray secured the win over the hosts and with it the First Division trophy.

The night went down as one of, if not the greatest, nights in Cobh Ramblers history and capped off a stunning season for the Rams. The 77 points collected that year was a league record and Cobh only lost three games over the 33-game campaign. The year also involved a stunning 27 game unbeaten run and the Rams defence kept 22 clean sheets in the league. Finn Harps pushed Ramblers right to the wire but a young Stephen Henderson was successful in guiding Cobh to a first ever LOI league title.

Ten years on we look back on that famous night and speak to some of the people who were right at the heart of it. First up is club stalwart John Meade who started that game as the 22 year old left back. John had been part of the club since he was a schoolboy and went onto make over 200 appearances for Ramblers. The Cobh man grew up not far from St Colman’s Park and the win meant more to him than most.

John Meade - Photo: Barry Cregg
John Meade – Photo: Barry Cregg

“It’s honestly hard to believe that it’s been ten years since that famous night. I remember it like it was yesterday. To this day it’s probably the best night that I’ve ever had in football. Looking back on it now we had some super players in that squad. We were like a big family, everyone knew each-other inside and out. I think that won us the league, that bond we had together. We gave it absolutely everything to win games. Myself, it hurt me if my winger got crosses into the box, never mind if we lost a game. Remembering the night itself, there was a lot of pressure on our young shoulders. I was only 22 at the time and pretty much everybody I knew was in the crowd watching. Thankfully Kev got the goal and there was no way that we were going to let it slip then. The celebrations back in Cobh after the game were something else. It meant so much to the town and the club.”

John is still playing football today, captain of successful Munster Senior League side Cobh Wanderers. While Ramblers are yet to replicate that night in 2007, the defender is hopeful that the club can repeat the feat sooner rather than later.

“Hopefully those days will come back to Ramblers soon as it’s a great club and I spent most of my career there. I’m getting nostalgic again but looking back, the buzz and the hype ahead of that game really was unbelievable. I’m still playing with Wanderers and hopefully we’ll have a few of those occasions ourselves this year. Winning a trophy doesn’t come around too often. When you are on course to win something, there’s no town better than Cobh for support. The night in Athlone summed that up.”

Another key figure that night, and throughout the season, was the defender on the opposite channel, right-back Alan Carey. 2007 was Alan’s third year at Cobh after spells with Cork City and Waterford. Carey too has fond memories of the historic night.

Alan Carey - Photo: Stephen McCarthy
Alan Carey – Photo: Stephen McCarthy

“Similarly to John, I can’t believe it’s been ten years already. It’s something I often think about and I’m sure all the other lads are the same. It’s a proud achievement and we’ll never forget it. I think we really bonded as a squad that year and it stood to us. I still keep in touch with lots of the lads and I was only talking about this on Sunday at the FAI Cup Final with Kieran O’Reilly who was one of our main strikers that year. 

It seems to be getting harder and harder to win the First Division and the current team of 2017 were very unlucky this season. Hopefully they can go on and do it next year. I know personally it’s something that I’ll never forget and it’s a great memory to have.” 

Midfielder Michael Mulconry, or ‘Mucky’ as he was fondly known, was another pivotal player in 2007 in what was his second spell at St Colman’s Park. The fans’ favourite caught the eye with countless impressive displays and the experienced midfielder has plenty of happy memories from that season.

Hendo put together a very good team that year and we were fit and hungry for success. Pre-season on the famous Burma Steps served us well. Training sessions were as competitive as matches and we would kick lumps out of each other. The team spirit in the group really was special and it’s the same to this day when we meet up.

Ourselves and Finn Harps had a brilliant battle for the title that season. With a couple of games to go we were both promoted, they were just ahead on points but we wanted to be win it. They played live on TV at home to Athlone in the second last game and only drew which opened the door for us. If we won our last two games we would be champions.

So we beat Monaghan at home on the Sunday and then traveled to Athlone for the finale on the following Saturday. Early in the game we got a huge slice of luck when Bilko (goalkeeper James McCarthy) got lobbed but the ball somehow bounced on a hard spot and went over the bar. You kind of knew then that it was going to be our night. It takes a big man to score a big goal and Kev Murray was the man. He had been immense all year at the back, as were Gutsie, Carey and Meadie with Bilko behind them. The celebrations were fantastic back in the club. It seemed like the whole of Cobh were there. That went on for a few days until we had to play Derry in a Setanta Cup play-off a few days later. My excuse is that I was still half-drunk when Paddy McCourt turned me inside out that night.”

It was amazing for a small club like Cobh to win a national title and I am still very proud that I was part of it all. The team, management, committee and fans all really pulled together to bring us success that year.”

Current Cobh manager Stephen Henderson was similarly at the helm back in 2007, leading a young, un-fancied side to league glory. The final of our contributors as we look back on that night ten years ago, Hendo goes right back to the start of that rollercoaster campaign.image

We started off that season with little expectations. Other clubs had invested heavily in their squads but we couldn’t as the new stand, dressing rooms and flood-lights were being built in Colman’s at the time. We even had to play our first few home games in Turners Cross. The lack of training facilities that year meant that the famous Burma steps in Cobh became what I imagine was the squad’s worst nightmare. I still chuckle when I remember Shane Barrett trying to complete those runs. However those steps genuinely built character amongst our squad. The lads had to dig deep to do the runs in time and they never faltered (apart from Shane!). I felt that if we had that kind of determination and character on the pitch we would be tough to beat.

We did not have a great start. We lost the first two games, to Limerick in the Cross and away to Wexford who were new into the league at the time. We all had a good look at ourselves and knew we had to get up and running against Finn Harps in Turners Cross.
It was a typical tough battle but young Gareth Cambridge came up with the winner for us and that set us on a truly magnificent journey that would see our lads break all sets of records .

At the awards night that year every squad member was named as our Player of the Year. Every single one of them made a huge contribution to what is still our only senior national trophy as a League of Ireland club. At the end of the Athlone game I looked at Martin Cambridge and was truly so happy for him as he was a special part of our group. I found my wife Lesley in the crowd to thank her for putting up with everything that goes with being a manager. I left the players on the pitch as this was their night and I went into the sanctuary of the dressing room sanctuary to ring my Dad and thank him for giving me the tools to be part of such a special group on such a special occasion.

After that I got locked for three days.”

The celebrations went on long into the night back in Cobh as the hundreds of supporters made their way back to the Great Island. The trophy has done a tour of Ireland since but is yet to return to Cork Harbour. A third place finish in 2016 followed by second place in 2017 bodes well for the near future however and hopefully it won’t be long before the class of ’07 are joined by a new crop in the claret and blue.

The Ramblers team that night was as follows: James ‘Bilko’ McCarthy (GK), Alan Carey, John Meade, Kevin Murray, Shane ‘Gutsy’ Guthrie, Shane Barrett, Davin O’Neill, John Kearney, Kieran O’Reilly (Kenny Coleman, 86 mins), Graham Cummins, Michael ‘Mucky’ Mulconry.


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.