A DISAPPOINTING end to the season but one in which a lot can be learned from to help improve for next season.
That is of the opinion of Cobh Ramblers assistant manager Declan Coleman. Alongside manager Stuart Ashton, he is already planning and recruiting for 2021.
“Recruitment never really stops as we are always on the lookout for ways of improving and strengthening the squad,” said Coleman.
"We already have our eyes on a few targets locally and a bit further afield and with returning to pre season in eight weeks, between now and then we will be kept busy talking to contacts to try and give ourselves the best chance of having the strongest squad possible when we return.”
Coleman served as assistant manager at U19 level both with Cobh Ramblers and Cork City and gained valuable experience during his time with both clubs which then led to his current position with Cobh’s First team, which he is thoroughly enjoying.
“I have a really good relationship with Stu, going back to when I was at Cork City when he was Head of Youth Development, overseeing the academy.
"He was always someone I looked up to and got advice from or bounced ideas off. We are always in communication with each other, on the phone a couple of times a day planning training sessions, discussing our previous match or talking about our upcoming fixtures or just talking about areas we can improve the team.
"He’s very open and honest and he really values the input of all of the coaching staff so it’s a great setup to be part of because you know you bring something to the table. I get to do a lot of coaching in the training sessions and Stu always looks for my input when it comes to picking the team so I couldn’t be happier with my role to be honest.”
The 32-year-old A Licence holder from Grange looks back on the season with mixed emotions and a lot of what-ifs, but he is confident that the young squad have a lot to be proud of, and any lows they experienced throughout the season, are sure to make them better players and better people going forward.
“This season obviously was a bit strange with the massive break after only a few games, but we tried to cope as best we could. The lads did great work all during that time in order to keep themselves fit and sharp.
"There were a lot of different competitions amongst them between different running targets or skills videos and all different sorts of stuff. We tried to keep things as fun and varied as we could to keep everyone from going off the wall altogether.
“When we got back we managed to put a good run of form together for a bit but in the end probably just ran out of games.
"Of course looking at it now we missed out on the playoffs on goal difference so you could look at some particular games that cost us. We conceded some late goals in a few of them, like UCD away, Athlone away, Cabinteely at home, so that is something we will have to learn from for next season.
"It was massively disappointing to miss out on the playoffs but the squad has improved so much as a group in the last 12 months I think we will definitely learn from what we went through this season.
“It’s a very talented squad we have, with a lot of very versatile players. There is some huge potential there and that’s the important thing to remember because we aren’t the finished product by a long way.
"There is a bit of a mix in regards youth and experience, although I’m sure fellas like Ian Turner, John Kavanagh, and Greg Henry would argue they are still young enough as well as being experienced!
"But even with it being a young enough squad there is a good core of lads who have played in the league and with the club for a number of seasons now. Then there were a few additions that are relatively new to playing at this level and they adjusted very well.
“If you look at the table you can see we had one of the best defensive records but one of the poorest goal scoring records this season, so a little bit of ruthlessness at the top end of the pitch is something we will need to improve on with the players."
The games where they conceded late goals is something to address, something that can be corrected with a little bit of composure and concentration.
“Next season we will look to improve on what we did this year. From last season our points per game ration is drastically improved, as is the gap in terms of points between us and the teams above us so if we can keep going like that then we are heading in the right direction.”
Looking forward to the local derby against Cork City in the First Division next season however Coleman wishes it could be at the top level.
“It would have been even more exciting if we had managed to go up to the Premier Division to Cork City instead of them coming down to us in the First Division!
"But yeah, a local derby is definitely something to peak the interest of the local football community. Hopefully by the time the first fixture between the two clubs rolls around we will be able to have a few fans in the grounds and it will add a little bit more to the games.
"I think for Cork football it is really important that both clubs are performing at as high a level as possible so hopefully in the coming years these local derbies will become the norm, in the Premier Division.”