NEW boss Darren Murphy got off to a winning start as Cobh Ramblers interim manager, but his side should face a tougher test when they travel to face Shelbourne at Tolka Park this Friday night.
Ramblers come into their trip to Dublin six points off the playoff places after beating Cabinteely in their most recent First Division outing.
Shelbourne are in a commanding lead at the top of the First Division table and it looks a tall task at this stage for anyone to stop them from securing the title.
When the sides played at St Colman’s Park earlier in the season, Cobh had taken the lead initially through Conor Drinan and missed a penalty to go two up through Charlie Lyons.
Shels were to rally and second-half goals by John Ross Wilson and Ryan Brennan saw The Reds come from behind to secure the victory.
With a total of 34 goals scored so far this season in the league, Shels have proven their clinical nature in front of goal, with the likes of Ryan Brennan, Michael O’Connor and Yoyo Mahdy among the main attacking threats available to manager Ian Morris.
Although they went down to a defeat against UCD in the FAI Cup, in the league Shels have been in ruthless form.
The Dublin side have won 12 out of their 16 league games played, with four draws and Ian Morris’s side yet to taste defeat in the First Division this campaign.
Even though it was a great start to the Darren Murphy reign as Ramblers boss, the timing to replace former boss Stuart Ashton seemed initially puzzling, with Ashton guiding Cobh to a 1-0 win over Cabinteely in the most recent league game, to leave the club six points off the playoffs.
Saying that however, former Stevenage Borough and Cork City player Murphy is someone that looks well equipped for management and the Ramblers first team appears to be in very capable hands.
Because of a new FAI directive from next year, Ashton wouldn’t have been allowed to remain in charge of the club in 2022, as he works for the FAI as a coordinator of the Cork Education Training Board course.
Cobh Ramblers' vice-chairman Tony Flannigan explained the reasoning behind Ashton’s departure, the decision to change the management of the first team and in bringing Darren Murphy into the first team managerial setup.
“In football, these decisions are not easy to make and there are multiple factors we as a club have to consider.
“I am not going to go into specifics, but when we analyze a club across the board, we are ultimately responsible to assess whether we are performing to the standards we expect.
“People will have different opinions on whether we are where we should be or should be doing better.
“But as a board, we discussed it at length. There is never a right time to make these decisions and they are very difficult.
“We spoke with Stu(Stuart Ashton) and we have great time for him, James, Dec and the backroom staff.
“The decision was made ultimately and we just need to kick on now. Darren is the man we see will bring us forward until at least the end of the season.” On what he feels Darren Murphy can bring to the table as the first team boss at Ramblers, Flannigan added:
Darren knows what we are about, what we are trying to do with the club and where we want to go.
“We know he is energetic and looking to get going. We think we will get a good reaction from Darren, not even on the pitch but off the pitch as well in other aspects of the club that we have discussed already.
“It is exciting times and the season is there to be played for.
“We are still in touch with the playoffs and hopefully we can go on a cup run. So it is onwards and upwards as far as the club is concerned now.”
After winning his FAI Cup opening round clash against Leinster Senior League side Liffey Wanderers, Murphy will be hoping that form can be transferred to the league and the upcoming clash with Shelbourne on Friday night.
The second-round draw of the FAI Cup pitted Cobh in a tie against another Leinster Senior League team Maynooth University Town.
Before that though, the focus for Murphy will be on trying to produce a positive result from their trip to Tolka Park.