A VICTORY was vital for Cork City in the opening game on Friday, but it was a disappointing result for Cobh Ramblers and Manager Stuart Ashton.
City played well for periods, particularly in the second half after the introduction of Alec Byrne, and when the final whistle blew were 2-1 winner. Overall I felt Cobh probably played the better football and deserved at least a draw for their work ethic and general performance.
I can’t be too critical on the opening night of the season and I suppose after just one game it’s hard to make an assessment, however, I was expecting a bit more from this City side. I had said in my preview I expected City to comfortably beat Cobh but I was wrong.
On paper, City had huge quality, but on the pitch, Cobh’s heart, football and desire at times outshone that.
As expected, both sides started a bit cautiously and it was the visitors who had the first chance of the game when debutant and goal scorer Ciaran Griffin had his effort saved by Mark McNulty after just two minutes of play. In fact, for the opening 30 minutes, Cobh looked the hungrier of the two sides while City looked very unsettled.
City debutants George Heaven and Gordon Walker linked up with Cian Coleman and Ronan Hurley to complete the back four. Coleman looked comfortable while Hurley was solid at left-back however I think it will take another few games to see just how good Heaven and Walker can be as both lost composure at times.
I was impressed with former City and Avondale player Dave O’Leary. I thought he got on the ball a lot in the middle of the park and spread the ball well.
Griffin worked tirelessly throughout up top and it was great to see the youngster score a fine goal on his debut. I would imagine, along with Conor Drinan, he will be key for Cobh this season.
We’ve been asking throughout pre-season ‘Where will City’s goals come from?’.
It's an area where I feel Cobh have an overload. I’ve no doubt City will push on and still compete for honours this season, but while they looked strong enough at the back and very solid in midfield, I think goals could still be an issue.
Cory Galvin and Gearoid Morrissey looked impressive going forward but weren’t on the ball enough in the first half in dangerous areas. Most of the play was down the flanks.
Bargary got sufficient possession but at times he failed to get good deliveries into the box such was the excellent defending by Cobh’s back four of Pierce Philips, John Kavanagh, Charlie Lyons and Daryl Walsh. They were a solid unit and were rarely troubled. Likewise for their keeper Sean Barron, who was less busy than McNulty at the other end.
Coleman’s goal in the 35th minute was celebrated with almost a sense of relief from the players. Up until then, Cobh were the side that were piling on the pressure. From here I expected City to relax and drive on.
They did begin to settle a little and had some good patches of play however they still lacked that spark and I found myself enjoying Cobh’s style of play that little bit more. Healy said during the week that what he wanted from his players was hunger, focus and a strong desire to do well for the team. I felt they certainly lacked two of the three.
The major positive we have to take from the game was that two Cork sides should do well this season. Yes, City didn’t impress me as much as I was expecting, but I know they have the quality. They kept a good shape and tried to play football at all times, they retained possession and looked fit and strong.
I’m confident their performances will improve.
Cobh should be happy with their performance and equally disappointed with the result. They are a young side, but nonetheless, they are a physical and fit side who play lovely football and I expect them to take points from a lot of teams this season.
Next up for City is an away trip to Cabinteely which will be a good test while Cobh play host to UCD.