IVAN BEVAN has an even bigger role to play regarding the future of Cobh Ramblers this season.
On top of being the U19s manager, Bevan was recently appointed as the Ramblers head of youth development.
Speaking to The Echo, Bevan said he is excited by this role and is looking forward to putting the work in over the campaign ahead, whenever it starts post the current health crisis.
He also feels that having a first-team boss at Cobh Ramblers with such a great track record in player development on Leeside, is a good thing for the club overall.
“We are lucky that with Stuart Ashton and his experience of youth development, that he is fully behind the academy.
“It is a player-driven academy. Whatever is best for the player we do. If the player is best served playing a grade up, we play him a grade up.
“It is all about for us developing the players and getting them to the first team.
“For the academy itself, it is the development of the player and the number of players we can take in at the youngest age group and take them all the way through.
“I’m delighted to be given this opportunity.
“The club prides itself on being a player-centred academy, and giving players every opportunity to be the best they can.
“Hopefully, we can grow the Ramblers Academy and build on the successes in player advancement of recent years.”
On top of his new post, Bevan will also be overseeing the Ramblers U19s side as the head coach for the season ahead.
There have been a number of players who have come through from the underage system at Ramblers in recent years to first team League Of Ireland football, something which can be noted by one glace at the current first team squad list of Cobh for the 2020 season.
Among those still with Ramblers is David Hurley, one of the top young central midfielders in the First Division at the moment, who initially joined Cobh at U19s level in 2016 from Ringmahon Rangers.
Jaze Kabia, who started out with the Ramblers U17s team back in 2017, is now playing and scoring in the Premier Division for Shelbourne.
While Charlie Fleming, now playing in the top flight with Cork City, is another to have come through the Cobh underage ranks and get his first taste of first team League Of Ireland football at Ramblers.
The clear pathway which Cobh can provide is something which Bevan feels is key to the way the club are trying to do things.
“It is a big selling point for us.
“The big success story over preseason was Gavin Ryan, our underage goalkeeper signing with the first team.
“Gavin is a really good lad and we are lucky at U19s that we have two good goalkeepers.
“Gavin and Shane [O’Shea] are training away with the first team.
“Gavin is the first player to have come through all the way from U15s. So he is the big success.
“It is there for everyone to see, that the pathway is there for players to get to the first team and play League Of Ireland football.”
Ramblers have been very much active and vibrant in the offseason, trying to put the club back into connection with the local community.
The committee are trying to put Cobh front and centre to what they are doing, with the aim also to try and produce more Cobh-based players for the Ramblers' first-team squad.
Bevan has been very impressed by the work they are trying to do, as the club seek to place a big importance on having a solid underage system over the years to come.
“It is the ideal scenario for the club. The more Cobh-based players, the better.
“We are tying up more and more with Springfield Ramblers, exchanging ideas and exchanging coaches.
“Working together with the kids from a really young age and hoping to model some of the bigger academies in the country.
“The age profile of the board itself has changed. It’s younger and it is a professional board.
“They are really behind the academy and really behind the first team.”
With the way the current footballing landscape is, League Of Ireland clubs look set to have to play an even bigger role in the development of young Irish footballers over the coming years.
Bevan feels that the national underage leagues are going to play an even more important part in the future of football in Ireland.
“I think that it is the way to go. You are playing against the best teams every week, playing in better facilities, getting a better level of coaching.
“So I definitely think it is the way to go. But there are difficulties and I am not sure everyone is pushing in the same direction yet.
“The key to it all has to be player development and what is best for the player.
“Of course there are some teething difficulties with the U13s and U15s. But we had that too with the U17s and U19s.
“The U15s has settled down more this year. The U13s will settle down more.
“I know the FAI are looking at bridging gaps and making the transition easier, because the more players we can keep in the National League system the better, for the players themselves.”
Bevan has the sound of someone who is relishing the role ahead of him and trying to develop the next generation of Cobh Ramblers first team footballers.