JOHN Forrest has a firm grasp of the understanding regarding the Cobh Ramblers footballing philosophy and the importance of the underage structure at St Colman’s Park.
Forrest is in charge of the Cobh U15 team for the 2020 League Of Ireland season, at a club that places a very strong emphasis on producing players for the first team squad from the underage setup.
Chatting with The Echo, Forrest is looking forward to the campaign ahead and getting stuck into his new post.
“I was delighted to be offered the role as the U15s manager. This is my third season with Cobh, the last two seasons I have been assistant manager, so it is nice to step up to a different role.
“I can’t wait to get the season started and get the games in.
“For the group, we want the players to enjoy their football and we want to challenge them also.”
For someone like Forrest, it certainly is a plus to have someone with such as great track record in Leeside football, through Stuart Ashton, as the Ramblers’ first-team boss.
“It is great because he set out what he expects from the coaching staff throughout the different years.
“For the U15s, he said his main priority is the development of the players, which is good to know that he is recognising the development is the main thing there.
“Especially at U15s level, the players should be enjoying themselves and having fun, but to be challenged at the same time.
“When I first came in with the U15s with Kevin Ronayne a few years ago, Gavin Ryan came into that team.
“When I moved up to the U17s last year, Gavin came up there and now you see him playing with the seniors in preseason.
“It is great to see that a young fella that has been at the club two seasons is already in the first-team squad.”
Forrest also has extensive coaching experience and has coached for many years in the Cork Schoolboys League. He steps up to the Ramblers U15 managerial position, having spent the last two seasons on the coaching staff with Ramblers U15s and U17s.
On the lessons he has learned about coaching at League Of Ireland level to date, Forrest adds:
“The main thing is you are learning something new every week. You will different things from different teams setting up a small bit differently. You are picking up what they are doing.
“Every team is strong as well. There is no team being cut away, it is always tough games.”
During his time with College Corinthians, among the players he dealt with was a young man called Adam Idah.
Of course, Idah is currently showcasing his footballing abilities with Norwich City in the English Premier League and at international level for Ireland U21s presently.
“When I started coaching it was actually when I was a teen with Kevin Ronayne. Kevin brought me down to Cobh as well, he was manager of that Corinthians team and I went in working with him.
“Adam is a fantastic footballer. Watching the stuff he does, you just have to stand and applaud at times.
“Definitely you could see that he had it all. You could see that he had unbelievable talent and that he could play anywhere for you.
“I remember there was one game, I think it was against Greenwood, that we were drawing 2-2 and he knocked in five goals in the second half.
“The next season we played in a cup final and he started at 10. He got Man of the Match and ran the show.”
On top of coaching, Forrest is also a former player for Cobh Ramblers. He lined out in 2010 when the club were playing in the A Championship.
That was the now-defunct third-tier containing emerging senior sides, including Cobh who were relegated after they failed to obtain a First Division license at the time, along with the reserve teams of League Of Ireland clubs.
“It was 2008 to 2010 that I would have played down in Cobh and playing in the A Championship. Dave Hill was the manager around that time.
“I can remember playing in Dalymount Park and playing against the likes of Bohs and Shamrock Rovers. We had Rovers in Tallaght.
“But you were getting to play these games and playing in first team grounds, we also played St Pat’s at Richmond Park.
“It was great to experience that setup from that side of the game. I think the season I finished, Ramblers went on to play in the playoffs against Salthill.”
Forrest feels that it can only be a good thing for young players to play underage League of Ireland and test themselves against the best from across Ireland at their age level on a regular basis.
“I think it is great to bring players together and getting them competing against players from different counties and that provide different challenges at a higher level.
“You’d have your Cork select panel who plays in schoolboy inter league competitions. But I think that this is just another step further.”
Forrest will look to continue to develop himself as a coach this term, while in the process helping to develop and improve an eager group of young footballers at Cobh Ramblers.