A HIGHLY rated young player in Waterford footballing circles, Darryl Walsh is determined to grab the prospect of regular League Of Ireland football with both hands at Cobh Ramblers.
The 19-year-old, who is capable of playing at either left-back or centre-back, joined Ramblers ahead of the 2020 campaign and he is hoping the move to St Colman’s Park will be a beneficial one in terms of his development.
Chatting with The Echo, Walsh described how the chance to try and get more regular first-team football was a big factor in making the move to Cobh.
“Yeah without a doubt. That draw of first-team football in a very competitive Cobh squad in a very competitive First Division was a big pull,” Walsh said.
“I was loving life at Cobh at the moment before the break happened.
“For myself coming in from Waterford as a newbie, everybody has made me feel welcome.
“We were getting a bit of momentum going and we had two good results before it all ended because of the coronavirus.
“In fairness, Stuart (Ashton) and the coaching staff are top class. If you are doing well they will tell you and also if they see areas you have to improve on, they will all tell you.”
In 2017, Darryl was a member of the Republic of Ireland U17 squad at the European Championships in Croatia.
That was a team managed by Corkman Colin O’Brien and contained current Norwich City attacker Adam Idah, who were defeated by England in the quarter-finals 1-0.
Jadon Sancho, now of Borussia Dortmund, got the winning goal, in an England team which also contained Phil Foden and Callum Hudson-Odoi.
Looking back on that experience overall at the U17 Euros, Walsh describes it as a trip of a lifetime.
“That U17 European Championship qualifiers and finals was an experience of a lifetime.
“You are playing with players like Lee O’Connor and Aaron Connolly, who are after making their senior team debuts.
“As an experience just to get into that environment, it was so professional. That is what being a professional footballer is like.
“You get up, you train and you eat like a footballer. You are resting and you are recovering. In 2018, I captained Ireland against England in the schools in the Centenary Shield.
“That was one of the proudest days that I have had so far. That experience of going away to another country and representing Ireland, I don’t think there is a feeling that can match it.”
Darryl broke into the Waterford first team set up and in 2018, he made his Premier Division debut in a 1-1 draw away to Shamrock Rovers.
Reflecting on his time with Waterford overall, Walsh felt it was a good learning curve.
“The experience I was learning off in there, you had the likes of Damien Delaney, a Crystal Palace captain and played against the likes of Luis Suarez and Sergio Aguero.
“To get that experience off him for a person in my position was second to none. Even Kenny Browne, a League Of Ireland legend.
“Just characters. The way I was looking at it, was to try to take something from everyone’s games.
“That experience for me I was coming across, even coming on in Tallaght against Shamrock Rovers and you are marking Graham Burke.
“That is the highest level you can play at and that is the level you want to be playing at. That kind of drove me on in a way. So hopefully now we can get Cobh back up to the Premier Division and that is where we will be at as well.”
While also remaining a key player in the Waterford underage sides, during the 2019 season, Walsh moved on loan to Wexford FC where he would gain more first team experience over the latter stages of the campaign.
But now he has arrived in Cobh for what he hopes could be an important chapter in his career.
When the action gets back underway following the coronavirus crisis, as I ask about what this Cobh Ramblers side should be targeting, Walsh feels there is plenty of potential within the group.
“There is no reason why the squad that we have isn’t going to be up near the top of the table.
“We were getting a bit of momentum going before the break happened.
“You see the standard in training is top class and you are looking at lads there that are definitely Premier Division standard players.
“I just got a little taste of the Premier Division with Waterford. So it is really about getting results and a bit of momentum going, working together.
“If someone is having a bad game, you dig them out of the trenches. You just work for each other and even in training, you drive each other on, just having that bite to get back up to the Premier.
“You are seeing the quality of players that are in Cobh now.
“There is absolutely no reason why the club cannot go and get that promotion.”
As to when action will be able to get back underway remains as this stage is still very uncertain and it could be months rather than weeks before football returns.
But with regards to what he will be seeking to target with Cobh when the time comes for football to finally resume, Walsh is adamant that Ramblers can challenge towards the upper echelons of the First Division table to be around the promotion mix.