RELISHING his return to League of Ireland football, Cobh Ramblers Dave O’Leary is confident his side can turn things around and move up the table and he hopes this can start in Friday’s local derby against Cork City.
The former Avondale midfielder signed for Stuart Ashton’s side this season and although he didn’t expect a return to the LOI, he is thoroughly enjoying it with a great bunch of lads.
“To be honest, I didn’t think I’d have the opportunity but luckily enough, Stuart and I had a chat before pre-season started and I came in to train with the team,” said O’Leary.
“Thankfully, I signed and I am delighted to be playing with Cobh which is a great club.
“The side have gelled really well together. All hard-working lads who want to do well for the manager and club.
“It’s been a tough start for us. If we were playing poorly and losing, we couldn’t complain but the fact is I think we have only been outplayed once this year and that was against UCD and the rest of the games I felt we should have won or got something out of.
“We just need to keep doing what we are doing and get a bit of luck maybe and there’s no reason why we can’t move up that table.”
The father of one from Blackrock played most of his career with Avondale however he also had spells with College Corinthians, Limerick and Cork City.
All of which helped him gain a lot of experience and helped his development as a player.
“I started off my football days with Avondale where I stayed up until U15s when I moved to College Corinthians."
He was called up to the Irish squad at U17 level and played in the European Championships in Luxembourg.
From that squad, you’d the likes of John Egan, Shane Duffy, Jeff Hendrick who all play in the Premier League today. It was a great experience for me to play with and against some top players.
“From there, I was asked to join Limerick FC U20 squad but was fortunate to get the opportunity due to injuries and suspension to make my senior debut against Cork City in a 2-1 win in Turner’s Cross and then I stayed with the first team.
“Pat Scully was the man in charge back then and I was very lucky that he gave me that chance at the age of 17. I gained a lot of experience during my time at the club.
“At Limerick, I was fortunate enough to win the First Division title in 2012 with a fantastic team.
“I then moved to Cork City and again I enjoyed my time there. We were unlucky to be beaten on the last day of the season against Dundalk to win the Premier Division."
He has many great memories, including picking up a runners-up medal in the EA Sports final against St Pat’s with Galway losing out on penalties.
Having spent time away in Australia, O’Leary returned at the perfect time when he hooked up with Avondale once again and here he was set to pick up more silverware.
“When I moved back from Australia, there was only half the season left and Avondale were still in the Intermediate Cup to which we went on a win that year.
It was a great experience playing in the Aviva with some great players. I have always loved playing with the club and to win an Intermediate Cup with my schoolboy club was a dream really.
“Playing in the Munster Senior League has been fantastic as it is a very competitive league with some fantastic players and management.
“It’s a tough league in the MSL as nobody runs away with the league and it’s nearly a different winner each year which shows how competitive it is.
“This competitiveness has kept me in the game this long and it certainly prepares me for the return to LOI football.
“Playing in the First Division of LOI is tough but the competitiveness of the MSL made the transition that little bit easier."
This year’s First Division is probably the most competitive it’s been in years.
“Teams who may or may not have been expected to do well are picking up points against expected challengers and that shows how funny this division is.
“We know that if you get three or four wins in a row, you could be challenging for a league so we just need to stay focused on the job ahead.
“There is a good mixture of 'old and youth'. I probably would be considered old at this stage and I’m just 28 but it’s good that I can pass on some experience of what it’s like to challenge for trophies to some of the younger lads.
“Ian Turner also has done it all so between us, I believe there’s a good balance within the team.
“Every game we strive to get a result and the lads are really working hard to achieve this.
“We are looking forward to the derby on Friday, however, it will be like every other game where we will try give it 100% and do our best to get three points.”