IT’S always great to see former players return to their old club and play well.
Last Friday night was no different as I saw John Kavanagh captain Cobh Ramblers against Cork City in Turner’s Cross.
Kavanagh could have been a key player for City back in his time at the Cross. However, he was unlucky with injuries and it was disappointing not to see his full potential with the club.
In saying that, his time since leaving City has certainly not been wasted. He has grown massively as a player, gained huge experience and you can see why Stuart Ashton chose him to lead his side for the season.
The season kicked off last Friday night against Cork City and although it was a disappointing result for Ramblers, the 26-year-old from Knockraha is confident the team have what it takes to make the play-offs.
“Overall, we were bitterly disappointed with Friday night’s result, but on the other hand, there are a lot of positives that we can take from it,” said Kavanagh.
“From a performance point of view, I felt that we were very good for large parts and on another night things might have been different. “Obviously, there are areas and errors that we will look to improve on over the coming weeks.
“Going into it we expected a tough game and that’s exactly what we got, not an inch was given by either team. The intensity was high throughout and hopefully, that’ll stand to us in the games that lie ahead.”
Next up for Ramblers is a home game against UCD, a game in which Kavanagh knows the importance of picking up points.
“It’s crucial now really that we pick up some points against UCD.
“While it is obviously still very early on in the season, we want to get off the mark as quickly as possible.
“That said, we’ll be under no illusions when it comes to UCD. They’ve proved year after year that they are a force to be reckoned with in the First Division.
“As always, we’ll do our work on them during the week but it’s important that we build on the performance and positives of last weeks game.”
Ramblers impressed in their opening game and for Kavanagh, the competition for places within the squad is what makes the lads work harder in session after session.
At the moment I think everyone believes that they should be in the starting 11, and that’s a great place for us to be as a squad.
“Pre-season has been long and tough but everyone has put their head down and put the work in. Everyone has something different to offer, opportunities will arise for everyone throughout the season, and I’ve no doubt about that.
“But for now, it’s important that we get behind each other and ensure that we get some points on the board, starting this week against UCD.
“Last year’s First Division was really competitive, the shortened season probably added to it but I think seven out of the 10 teams were playing for something on the final day of the season.
“I didn’t think that could be beaten but it looks like something similar will be in store come the end of the season. Everyone strengthened and everyone will feel that they have enough to be in and around the playoffs at least.
“It should be an exciting season with plenty of ups and downs for everyone.”
Kavanagh had brief spells with various clubs and the right-back believes each club developed him as a player in different aspects.
“While at Cork City I was fortunate enough to be a part of a group that was full of professionals and winners.
“Of course, I didn’t play as much as I would have liked while I was there but sharing the same dressing room with some of the best coaches, managers and players in the league at the time was a real learning curve.
“Gaining promotion through the playoffs was the highlight while at Finn Harps. Ollie Horgan’s attention to detail is second to none, he leaves no stone unturned.
“My first spell at Waterford is one of the most enjoyable periods of my career. It was their first season back in the Premier Division, there was a real feel-good factor around the place and Rennie was key to that.”
But for now, his focus is on Ramblers and after a disappointing end to last season, he is hoping for a more positive season this year while the return of fans would be very much welcomed.
“Last year ended on a sour note, missing out on the playoffs, but being able to keep the majority of last year’s squad was refreshing and really allows us to build on what we had last year.
“The new signings, as you can see already, have added depth and quality and ensures a lot more competition for places which should benefit us all.
“Personally, I just want to play week in week out and help the team achieve promotion. That’s what we’re all working towards.
“Fans are a huge miss, especially on nights like last Friday night. I would imagine it would have been a full house for the local derby. Everyone associated with the clubs misses the connection and the emotion that is shared with the fans.
“It’s been said many times before, it’s not the same without them. Hopefully, there are better days ahead in that regard and we will see some fans in the grounds before the summers out.”