STAYING involved in the beautiful game at some capacity after finishing as a player is always great to see.
There are so many different routes a former player can now take and whether it be coaching, refereeing or an administrative role, being involved is what matters most.
Former Cobh Ramblers and Cork City player Davin O’Neill decided to go down the route of coaching and just recently he was appointed manager of MSL side Cobh Wanderers, replacing Darren Murphy who took up the role as U19 manager at Cobh Ramblers.
The 37-year-old father of two has enjoyed an excellent playing career, and for the past number of years, he has been involved coaching teams at various levels from U8s in Springfield, to U17 and U19 LOI level with Cobh Ramblers, while also acting as player-coach with MSL side Cobh Wanderers.
His decision to manage a senior side for the first time came about very sudden but he is looking forward to the challenge ahead.
“The position became available at Cobh Wanderers when Darren Murphy vacated the job to manage the Cobh Ramblers U19 team,” said O’Neill.
"I saw the advert online and gave it some good consideration before I decided to apply. Thankfully it worked out and I am really looking forward to this new challenge.”
Taking up a position in these current times isn’t ideal however the Cobh man is fairly familiar with the current squad but is also looking forward to putting his own stamp on the managerial side of things.
“I’ve been managing with Springfield Ramblers for the past number of years so it has been difficult for me to get to a lot of senior games. I did go to watch the FAI Cup match versus Limerick in the Ramblers last season where I saw a lot of the players that are still playing and to be honest I thought they were very unlucky to lose that game.
"I know there are a good bunch of lads there and I look forward to working with them.
“I am currently working on getting reacquainted with the team, a lot of whom I would know and played with and others I will be getting to know for the first time.
"I think it is important as a manager to ensure that the team knows from the beginning what the key objectives will be, how I aim to achieve them and how I will support them in achieving their own personal goals for development also.
“As my post is commencing halfway through the season of course all of the squad will be welcome back if they are willing and I expect us as a team to work hard to maintain the position that they have got to and challenge at the top end of the table, where in my opinion Cobh Wanderers should be."
From 2015 to 2017 he was a player-coach with Wanderers, during that period they were promoted twice and have remained in the Premier Division ever since. They also won the Pop Keller Cup.
"I then moved to Cobh Ramblers where I spent time managing at U17 and U19 level.
"This is a great club and I have no doubt everyone involved with the club will be working hard both on and off the pitch to make this club a successful one.
“The MSL is a very good standard for young players playing senior football and an alternative for League of Ireland players who are reverting back from League of Ireland. Over the years it has improved as the game evolves in terms of strength and conditioning and fitness levels.
We often see MSL players take the step up quite easily.”
With two Cork teams currently playing in the League of Ireland First Division, Cobh Ramblers and Cork City, it has been noted that many players from MSL teams have been approached and are currently training with the aforementioned clubs. Although some clubs will be disappointed to lose players, O’Neill says there are a lot of positives to take if this happens.
“I have already seen players from the MSL sign up for Cobh Ramblers and Cork City this year, and fair play to them wanting to play at a higher level. Of course, this will impact the MSL but this also provides opportunities for other players to access MSL and develop which is a positive thing for football in Ireland.
“With regards to the LOI and this year's first division, I am really looking forward to it. With Cobh Ramblers and Cork City competing, firstly it will make the LOI first division much stronger and both Colin Healy and Stuart Ashton I know will have both the teams at the top end so I am looking forward to seeing the local derby on my doorstep once again.
"I remember playing in the last derby in Cobh in 2008 when you could not fit any more people into St Colman's Park. Generating this support for LOI is important so hopefully, restrictions will be lifted and we can all get to experience this atmosphere sooner rather than later.”
Always looking to improve on his coaching, O’Neill has done various courses which he hopes will help as he continues to climb the coaching ladder.
“I have enjoyed the coaching courses Niall O'Regan and the FAI provide to prospective coaches, I have also completed courses in the area of sports psychology and sports performance as I believe it is important to have up to date knowledge and practices to facilitate and support all types of players and personalities.
"Investing in these courses has made the transition from player to coach somewhat more seamless.”