AFTER what was an encouraging campaign last term, Conor Drinan feels that Cobh Ramblers can also have a very productive 2021.
When the campaign does get underway for the new season, it promises to be one of the most eagerly anticipated First Divisions in recent memory.
Of course, you will have Cork City trying to bounce back at the first time of asking under Colin Healy, while Cork’s former player and manager John Caulfield will be at the helm with a full-time Galway United side.
Shelbourne will also be looking to make an instant return to the top flight, while Bray and Athlone Town are assembling decent squads.
Despite the strong competition that will exist, Drinan and Ramblers will be determined to be in the mix once again this year, after only barely missing out on the playoffs on goal difference last term.
Speaking to The Echo, Drinan describes how much he is looking forward to the campaign forthcoming with Ramblers.
“I am very excited about the season ahead. I had good conversations with Stu [Stuart Ashton]. I like his plans for next season. I am just looking forward to getting back in with the group now and working hard for the season ahead.
“Last season we showed our mentality and that we can beat anybody when we give it our all. We went to Galway and Longford away, tough places to go and to get wins out of them was great. We are aiming now to get to the playoffs again, having just missed out last season.
I think the belief was always there last year and I think that is why most of the squad signed back. We have a good base in the team and they are all quality players as well.
“There will be quality teams in the First Division next season, but I definitely feel we can challenge any of them. I think we are all gunning for it now and I will be hoping to make my mark.”
The fact that Ramblers have retained most of their squad from last term suggests that there is a feeling in the dressing room that the club can be in contention for the playoffs at least again.
Prior to joining Ramblers, Conor had first-team football in the Munster Senior League with Carrigaline United, and was their top scorer as they secured promotion to the MSL Premier Division in 2019, scoring 24 goals.
“Playing in the Munster Senior League with Carrigaline definitely helped my development. You get used to playing with men week in week out. The physicality and pace of the game, definitely helped prepare me for the League Of Ireland First Division.”
Now Drinan will be hoping to emulate that on a national scale, by finding the net and securing Cobh a path back to the promised land of the League Of Ireland Premier Division.
Conor netted in the victory against the now Premier Division side Longford Town, along with strikes in Ramblers' wins versus Wexford and Shamrock Rovers II.
He will hope to be a key source of goals for Stuart Ashton’s side in the coming months ahead. He is a younger brother of Aaron Drinan who is currently with Ipswich Town and was back in their line-up for the League One clash against Swindon Town.
“Aaron has been doing very well over at Ipswich”, says Conor on how his brother is progressing at Ipswich.
“He broke into the first team and started playing regularly. He has been unlucky with a couple of injuries here and there. But anytime he is fully fit he is in the starting 11 and he is doing well.
“Aaron has been great for my development. I can give him a phone call and ask him questions, advice or anything like that. He has been a great help to me in all fairness.
As far as Cobh Ramblers are concerned, the forthcoming League Of Ireland First Division season will not start until at least March 26.
Once everything is safe and the season can eventually get underway, Conor Drinan will be determined to hit the ground running and play his part in another strong Cobh Ramblers campaign in 2021.
“Hopefully everything going well, it would be great to have the supporters back in St Colman’s Park. I think we showed everybody last year what we are about and what we can do. Hopefully, we can continue that for the season ahead.”