AFTER gaining their first victory of the 2021 First Division campaign last time out, Cobh Ramblers will be hoping for more of the same when they welcome Bray Wanderers to St Colman’s Park on Saturday, 7pm.
Last Friday, Cobh delivered a good performance and earned a positive result away to Wexford.
The opening half produced a very strong and determined showing from Ramblers. Although Wexford improved in the second half, Ramblers were focused and saw things out to secure a much-welcomed victory.
Cobh will again need to be fully focused tomorrow when they face Bray, a team that also has promotion ambitions after going agonisingly close last term.
“We have got to keep that level of consistency there,” said Cobh boss Stuart Ashton. “Bray is not an easy one. We always have great tussles with them and we don’t expect anything different.
“There are no easy games and we have to be prepared and put our own stamp on it. If we do that, we are as good a match for anyone in this division and we will see where it takes us on the day.”
Ben O’Riordan came back into the Cobh ranks last week; the club’s longest-serving player having first featured in 2016.
O’Riordan has played over 100 first-team matches at Cobh, which is pretty impressive for a 23-year-old.
It has been brilliant. There have been some unbelievable highs and some tough lows, but I just love this club.
"When you go through the lows, the highs are always worth it,” said O’Riordan.
For the opening few months of this year, League Of Ireland football was the only sport running.
O’Riordan outlined the strict guidelines which clubs have to follow at training and on match nights and the responsibility on players to adhere to these.
“We don’t want to be the team singled out and are trying as much as we can as individuals to keep as safe as we can. And you don’t want to be giving points away.
“You’d be cracking up at home without football, so it is a bonus to be playing football let alone in the League Of Ireland, so we do feel very lucky as players.”
Bray, up until the final week of last season, were in pole position to clinch the First Division title, but in the space of seven days their dreams were dashed by Galway United when John Caulfield’s side defeated them twice. Their first loss saw their title hopes all but end, and the second defeat ended their play-off hopes dashed.
Gary Cronin’s side will have promotions ambitions this year. One look at their squad tells us that they have every chance of being right up near the top of the table.
Brandon Kavanagh is on loan from Shamrock Rovers, after being shortlisted for the PFAI Young Player of the Year and First Division Player of the Year in 2020.
The big addition to the Bray ranks was Conor Clifford, who signed from Derry City, while former Newport County and Gillingham man Mark Byrne will be vital experience to the Wicklow side.
What made Cobh’s win in Wexford last week impressive was the fact they were missing a number of players through injury. Pierce Phillips and Conor Drinan might not be available tomorrow this week, with Stephen O’Leary, Darren Murphy, and Martin Coughlan all missing last Friday with knocks.
Former Ipswich Town man Caelin Rooney is suspended, with Regix Madika a long-term injury concern.
Encouraging, from a Cobh perspective last week, were the performances of goalscorer Killian Cooper and Chris O’Reilly, who did very well when given their opportunity from the start.
There needs to be a strong squad effort from Ramblers to have a good campaign in what is arguably the most competitive First Division of the last 10 years.
The hope will be that Cobh can produce another positive performance and result tomorrow against Bray.