COBH RAMBLERS will be looking to get off the mark in the 2021 League Of Ireland First Division when they face UCD at St Colman’s Park on Saturday night (7pm).
Although Ramblers ultimately came away with defeat from Turner's Cross, Stuart Ashton’s side must have been wondering how they didn’t come away with a point at minimum against Cork City.
Ramblers for large spells were the better side against their local rivals and on another night could have won that contest at Turner's Cross.
But the display against City provided numerous reasons for Ramblers to be hopeful about the campaign ahead.
The collective team effort, along with the performance of a number of players individually, should provide Cobh supporters with hope for the campaign ahead.
Among them was the performance of Ciaran Griffin. He led the line impressively in the Cobh attack and took his goal clinically.
Making the move up from Munster Senior League football at Cobh Wanderers, Griffin looks like a potentially very astute addition at Ramblers now in League Of Ireland football. Stuart Ashton will most certainly be hoping it is a sign of things to come from him in front of goal.
While in the middle of the park the performances of new Cobh additions David O’Leary and Darren Murphy were encouraging, both putting decent efforts in.
There does seem a greater balance this season in the Ramblers squad between youthful flair and experienced campaigners. This could be vital in an ultra-competitive First Division in 2021.
Ian Turner is one of those players with numerous years in League Of Ireland football behind him.
“So for me when you are one of the experienced players, you try to be approachable is the first thing,” outlines Turner.
“For me, it is something as you get older, you learn a little bit more about. I sometimes try to take myself back to being in their situation when I was 18/19 coming in training with the first team and trying to learn off players.
“I would like to think any of the lads can come up and ask me anything. In terms of that, I think in our squad everyone gets involved with each other and I try to help out any of the young lads that are learning their trade. If I can help them, I try my best to do it.”
As for the opposition on Saturday night, UCD played some free-flowing football and managed to score goals for fun at times last season. The Students were the top scorers in the First Division in 2020, with the duo of Yoyo Mahdy and Colm Whelan scoring 29 goals between them.
Although Mahdy has departed for Shelbourne, Whelan is still knocking around UCD and he will be a potent threat for the Cobh defence to deal with.
The conveyor belt of footballing talent in UCD should mean that the Students are in the mix for the playoffs once more at least.
UCD have added to their ranks well with Sam Todd joining from Premier Division football with Finn Harps, while Sean Brennan joins on loan from Southampton.
Although Shelbourne and Galway are being mentioned by most in terms of winning the First Division, as a dark horse for the title UCD potentially could be a decent choice. UCD manager Andy Meyler has potent attacking options to choose from.
When the two teams clash on Saturday, Ramblers will be most certainly seeking to avoid a repeat of what happened the last time the Students were in St Colman’s Park.
That was in September of last year, in a clash that saw UCD come out on top, delivering a 6-0 thumping to Cobh. The UCD scorers on that night were two goals apiece for Colm Whelan and Yoyo Mahdy, Liam Kerrigan and an own goal.
Overall, Cobh will hope this particular clash on Saturday will see them produce another good performance similar to the Cork City game, but this time they will want to get the result against UCD to back that up.
If Ashton’s side can play like they did in Turner's Cross, they will be in with a decent chance of picking up the three points.
Two of Cobh’s main injury concerns are in relation to Ben O’Riordan and Regix Madika, with both looking set to miss out on this clash with the Students.