'If a player comes in at 14 years of age to Cobh Ramblers, he can test himself against the best in Ireland'

Soccer coach Robbie O’Sullivan on player development in the League of Ireland
'If a player comes in at 14 years of age to Cobh Ramblers, he can test himself against the best in Ireland'

The All-Ireland U12 soccer team winning coaches: James Goodwin, Stevie O'Brien, Darren Haines, Robbie O'Sullivan, Dave O'Leary, Shane Healy and Stevie O'Keeffe.

AFTER Darren Murphy was appointed the interim first team boss at Cobh Ramblers, Robbie O’Sullivan was recruited as the U19s head coach.

O’Sullivan, who is a UEFA A Licensed qualified coach, has spent a number of years coaching and underage representative and national league level, most recently as part of the Ramblers U19s setup under Murphy.

Someone who has also coached successfully at Munster Senior League level in recent years, O’Sullivan is now determined to play his part in the player development pathway at Cobh Ramblers.

“It is great,” he says. “You can work on things, you can educate players, and the players are great to be around.”

O’Sullivan told The Echo about how he has found life so far as boss of Cobh U19s.

“It is a great league to be in. During the first phase of games, we played the likes of Galway, Shels, Cork City, and Waterford. We played Bohs most recently.

“For me, I am testing myself at that level against top coaches and managers in the league.

“It is the same for the players, they are testing themselves against the best players in the country. For example, against Bohs U19s, you had a lot of first-team experience there in Aaron Doran and Jamie Mullins.

“So it is great for our lads, that you are playing for Cobh Ramblers, down in East Cork basically, and you are still testing yourself against these lads who have played for Bohemians in Europe.

“For me, it is great, and it can only be a positive because, let’s be honest, they are in a good environment like that to test themselves.”

Cobh Ramblers have qualified for the Elite Round stage of the U19 National League, with other qualified teams being Cork City, Derry City, Shamrock Rovers, St Pats, UCD, Sligo Rovers, Shelbourne, Bohemians, and Galway United.

Assessing how the campaign has gone to date, O’Sullivan said: “It was great to have come out of the group, and our performances have been quite good.

“But I suppose, all along for us, it was just all about maximizing our potential. We still believe we have plenty of more in us, and plenty more to come from us. We hope to kick on in the Elite Phase and improve even further. From the club point of view, and for the players, it is very pleasing, as we are now going up against the best in the country at U19 level.

“I think to develop players and to get the best out of them, they need to be playing at the highest level.

“Now we are playing at the highest level. So it is great for the players that they can test themselves against the best players in the country at their age.”

In recent months have recently announced a partnership with English Premier League side Burnley. O’Sullivan feels this is something that could be of huge benefit Cobh in the years to come.

“It is up to us as coaches to push and challenge the players, to develop them so that they are ready for the next level,” he says.

“With regards the partnership with Burnley, for me, there are levels in football. You can go up to Darren in the Cobh Ramblers first team and we are obviously preparing them and getting them ready for that.

“Or they might go across the water to the likes of Burnley where it is another level higher again.

We have to push them, challenge them and develop them. So when they do hopefully make that move to the next level, they are fully prepared.

“It has to be an attractive offer to a player that he can see a pathway. So that if he comes in at 13 or 14 years of age to Cobh Ramblers, he can test himself against the best players in this country and eventually progress. That he could end up over in Burnley or further afield.

“It is massive for a player to see that, so that he is not just coming down here for a year and going back to a schoolboys league club.

“There is a clear pathway now that if you are good enough, are developing and meet all the standards, that there is a clear pathway there for you to play at the highest level, be that in Ireland or further afield.”

As Ramblers look to progress, coaches such as O’Sullivan look set to play a vital part in the club’s future.

More in this section

Sponsored Content

Add Echolive.ie to your home screen - easy access to Cork news, views, sport and more