COBH RAMBLERS defender Charlie Lyons is fully determined to make his way in the League of Ireland.
With the First Division starting this weekend, Lyons is keen to progress and kick on in his second term at Ramblers.
The 19-year-old spent two years in the youth setup at English Championship side Preston North End after joining them in 2017 from his local schoolboy club Innishvilla.
Lyons made the decision to come back to Ireland in 2019 and it was Ramblers that gave him an opportunity at gaining regular first team football, with Cork City also keeping tabs on him.
During his time with Preston, Lyons would been alongside Irish underage international Adam O’Reilly, while there were numerous Irish players in the club’s first team set-up.
Looking back on his time with Preston, Lyons recalls to The Echo his time cross-channel and also illustrates the differences he has found between underage and first-team football.
“When I first went over, you had Alan Browne, Greg Cunningham and Daryl Horgan (in Preston first team),” he said.
“Adam O’Reilly is a year younger than me. He moved over from Cork and I was living in the digs with him for two years.
“We settled each other in, to be honest. During the weekends it would only be the two of us in the house. We looked after each other, to be fair. You look after your own, as they say.
“Compared to youth-team football over in England, the League of Ireland is way more physical. You wouldn’t be used to that over there. The intensity of the games, with three points, so you are actually playing for something, whereas in England it is more the development side of things.
“I think I just have to learn my trade, especially as a centre-half. It is what you do off the ball.”
The Innishannon native is a strong left-footed defender who can play either centre-back or left-back.
He was a regular presence in the Ramblers defence during the 2019 season, making a total of 25 appearances.
Lyons has found his time at Cobh beneficial thus far and has enjoyed working with the current Ramblers boss Stuart Ashton, a man who has an excellent track record when it comes to working with young footballers.
“I am learning now, learning the position and trying to master it, so last season was a good experience up against a good enough standard of strikers. You learn a lot in first team football.
“Stu played there himself, so he is very detailed positional-wise with the centre-halves.
“He had trust in me and was playing me once he took over. I am happy out under him, so I cannot complain.
“Stu gives opportunities to young players. But as he was saying, you need to earn the right to play, he is not just going to hand you the jersey.
“He keeps you on your toes as well in that way.”
Over the next number of months, Lyons will be keen to showcase on a regular basis the potential that he has in his locker and that he can make an impact in first team League Of Ireland football.
Ramblers will kick start the 2020 campaign against Drogheda United at St Colman’s Park.
This will be a good early test for this young and ambitious Cobh group, who have aspirations to be challenging near the top end of the table this term.
Lyons is very keen for the team to try and hit the ground running for the campaign ahead and sees no reason why Cobh cannot be in the mix for promotion.
“In the First Division, anyone beats anyone, so I think it is very important to win your home games anyway and see how you get on away from home.
“But we’ll try to win our home games and see what happens. In the big games last season we turned up, but there is no point in only turning up every three or four weeks.
“I think that was our problem last year. We would be good one week and we would slack the next week.
“I suppose it is down to the players really. If we can just consistently put in a good 90 minutes, then I think we can finish strong anyway.
“A realistic goal for us is to definitely be finishing in the play-offs. At training we are looking sharp enough, so the playoffs would be a realistic goal for us as a team.
“I was eager to sign back as I think we proved in our performances at the end of the season that we are well able to compete at the top end of the league.
“Our goal is to still be in contention for the play-offs at the break and we’re confident of achieving that. Last year was my first season playing in this league and I could see that anyone is able to beat anyone.
“I learned a lot playing at this level. Mistakes and poor starts are punished. That should stand to me for the new season and I can’t wait to get going.”
Lyons will most certainly hope to play his part in Cobh challenging at the top end of the First Division table and keeping the club in contention for promotion to the League Of Ireland Premier Division.