ALTHOUGH disappointed with their 1-0 Munster Senior Cup loss to Carrigaline United, Cobh Ramblers midfielder Dave Hurley is confident about the season ahead.
Ramblers start their season tonight at home to Drogheda, and after a tough pre-season, the 21-year-old believes they are ready for the task ahead.
“Pre-season has been tough but very good,” said Hurley.
“We’re all just so eager for the season to start. It’s going to be tough, but we are confident we can make the play-offs.
“The play-offs are achievable because the top five make them and there’s no reason we shouldn’t do so with the calibre of players we have and with the amount of work we’ve put in.”
Hurley began playing with Tramore Athletic before moving to Avondale for a season at 14. His next move was to Ringmahon, where he won an U17 league and an U18 double. Then it was on to Cobh in the League of Ireland and he has been loving his time there ever since.
“Cobh are brilliant in putting faith in young players and giving them the chance to play league of Ireland. It’s a great club for the development of players.
“I’m only 21 but I have two League of Ireland seasons under my belt. I played two full seasons senior and I feel I’ve developed massively in those years.
“Playing League of Ireland football is so much different to local football. You have to be on the ball every week because if you’re not, you’ll be punished. But in saying that, I love that challenge of pushing myself all the time to be a better more committed player.”
The Douglas native, who in the off-season shone for St Michael's as they lifted the U21 county football crown, believes the mixture of youth and experience in this year’s squad will play a key role in how they will perform.
“We have a strong squad coming together. It’s obviously great that we have a lot of young players, but we also need some experience.
“The likes of Ian Turner, Paul Hunt, and John Kavanagh have tonnes of League of Ireland experience which is fantastic.
“We’ve also brought in loads of new players so it has given us a great balance and management will have lots of options. Options create competition in the squad which you need to keep everyone on their toes.”
Hurley appreciates the support he has got from his family and is grateful to them for giving him the love for the game.
Getting the chance to play in the World Student games last year in Italy was a fantastic experience for the midfielder and one which he owes to all the people who have supported him over the years.
“Since I was able to walk I was always playing football out in the green in my park with my buddies.
“I also used to love watching the game especially Manchester United. Players such as Roy Keane, Ronaldo, Scholes, and Rooney always inspired me.
“Getting the opportunity to represent my country in the World Student Games was an unbelievable experience.
“My parents would always give me loads of support. They came to all of my games, gave me lifts and made sure I was always fed correctly and this is something we shouldn’t take for granted really.
“They gave me a huge head start in my love for sport for me and my brother. Apart from friends and family, coaches I have had over the year were a massive influence also.
“The coaches in Cobh are great both on and off the pitch. All the players get on really well with them which makes a massive difference when it comes to performance.
“I’ve worked with Stuart (Ashton) for around three years so I know what he’s all about. I’ve had Dec Coleman since I’ve been U19 and he has been great for me.
“Kavs is our keeper coach and also does a lot of work behind the scenes with us.
“James Claffey is our sports psychologist. He’s a fella that you can talk to about anything even outside of football.
“Marc O’Neill is our video analyst, but he also is very involved on the coaching side.
“He takes a lot of the drills in training and often joins in for the matches. He’s one of the most technically gifted players I’ve ever seen. So for us, it does make a difference having a great management team.
“I can’t wait for the season to start this weekend. We all have personal aims as players and we all hope by the end of the season they will be fulfilled, but at the end of the day, it’s about helping the team out as much as I can.
“And hopefully, that can start this weekend by getting three points.”