IF THERE is one positive omen for Cobh Ramblers regarding their start to the 2021 First Division season, there are remarkable similarities to their 2007 title-winning campaign.
Ramblers in 2007 lost their first two games, including their first which was played at Turner’s Cross as St Colman’s Park was being revamped at the time, before going on to win the First Division title.
Regardless of what your thoughts are about the possibility of that happening this time around, Stuart Ashton’s side will need significant improvements over the coming months to be in the promotion playoff picture at least. As impressive as UCD were last week in St Colman’s Park, Ramblers will have been disappointed by their own disjointed display.
The opening half an hour was actually quite even. But once UCD took the lead it was essentially one-way traffic, with Cobh unable to find any sort of meaningful response. Ramblers reacted well last season to a heavy home defeat at the hands of UCD and they will be hoping for something similar this time around.
Although getting so close to the playoffs last year, only missing out on goal difference, in the end, Ramblers’ aspirations for 2021 heading into the new season were to go that extra step further.
Even though there are only two games played in the campaign and plenty of time to turn things around, Cobh will be seeking to pick themselves up and get going as soon as possible.
The away form of Ramblers was impressive at times last term, including away wins against the now Premier Division pair of Drogheda United and Longford Town.
They will be hoping for something similar on the road this term and will hope that can start with this upcoming clash on Friday against Treaty.
There is a big squad at Ramblers this term, arguably the strongest on paper in recent years. But every other team in this First Division has gotten stronger also.
League Of Ireland football has made a much-welcomed return to Limerick for 2021 in the form of Treaty United.
Under the guidance of experienced former Limerick boss Tommy Barrett, Treaty assembled a decent squad given such notice after getting approval to enter the league this season, with a good mix of experienced League Of Ireland players and some decent talent from the Intermediate and Junior ranks.
Treaty will come into the clash against Cobh with their tails up, having beaten Wexford and drawing away to Bray Wanderers in their opening two games.
There are a number of Ramblers connections in the Treaty side. Two of those familiar faces include Charlie Fleming and Anthony O’Donnell, who spent a number of seasons at St Colman’s Park, while Adam Foley, Jack Lynch and Shane Lowth are others to have playing spells for Ramblers.
Former Cork City keeper Tadhg Ryan and attacker Joel Coustrain are both also with Treaty for 2021, as the club look to consolidate in League Of Ireland football.
Former Ringmahon Rangers man O’Donnell was on the scoresheet with the winning goal for a Treaty last week against Wexford. Current Cobh man Lee Devitt is sure to see a number of familiar faces in the Treaty setup.
The Newmarket-on-Fergus man joined Limerick in 2014 and spent five years there, playing for the Limerick U17s, U19s and first team in the League Of Ireland. Devitt featured in all of the Ramblers games in 2020 and will hope to make his impact on the side again this term. There are a number of other Cobh players that have played their League Of Ireland football in Limerick over recent years also.
David O’Leary spent a number of years on Shannonside, picking up a First Division winners medal in 2012.
While Ian Turner spent time in the Premier Division with Limerick FC, winning the Soccer Writers Association Of Ireland player of the month award in October 2015, with Darren Murphy also having a playing spell in Limerick.
This will be a competitive local derby encounter, with Treaty proving to be well organized to date. Given the quality and standard being set in the First Division, Cobh will not want to fall too far behind the chasing pack even at this early stage.
Ramblers will hope it is a case of third-time lucky against Treaty United and that Cobh can get off the mark and get their opening points on the board for the 2021 campaign.