ENJOYING his current role as manager of MSL Premier side Cobh Wanderers, Davin O’Neill is pleased with the start of the season but knows there’s a long way to go yet.
O’Neill took over from Darren Murphy earlier this year when the latter left to take up the position as head of Cobh Ramblers.
Looking after a squad that has already been put in place is not the ideal situation. However, the former League of Ireland player has put his own stamp on things and currently sitting fourth on the table, Wanderers are clearly thriving under O'Neill.
He operated in the role of player-manager back in 2017 when Wanderers secured promotion to the Premier Division where they have remained since. Through his experience as a player and coach, his ambition is to drive on the current team to be competing at the top, where he believes Wanderers should be.
“Our expectations are very simple really,” said O’Neill. "It's important that we continue with the same work ethic we've had the last few weeks and to stay focused on how we're achieving results. If we can do that and build belief and confidence along the way then league position will look after itself with positive results.
Happy with how the season is going so far, O’Neill is grateful to have a great bunch of players but also a good coaching staff.
“I've been lucky enough to have a good team both on and off the field. This makes things a lot more manageable. It's important that it is a collective effort for it to work.
“We've come off the back of some good results recently and are getting the consistency we were after. Having everyone available and fit with options on the bench is now creating good competition on the team. Of course, we would have liked to have more points on the board. We've lost to the top three in the table. We play two of them return games at home where we'll look to get the points back, that’s the challenge.
“I've no doubt the league table will change considerably as the season goes on. We've not yet played one full round of fixtures and with everything that has gone on, I think when things get back to normal you'll see a bit of change in the league table.
“We have a good mix of experienced players Gary Collins, Brendán Frahill, Ian Stapleton, Ross McCarthy, Dave Curran, Eoin Hastings, Peter Nolan, Alan O’Flynn and Shane Hallahan who have been around the MSL for years who bring the solidity to the team.
"Then we've players with no experience of senior football such as Michael O'Rourke, Mikey Foley, Kevin Foster O’Reilly, Stuart O’Rourke and Tom Noonan, who are coming from U19 League of Ireland and bring energy and creativity to the team.
“Pat Maher is my assistant. He brings a wealth of experience in MSL having played and managed with Corinthians winning three MSL titles as well as playing with Cobh Ramblers in his playing days.
“Niall O’Rourke is a coach. He has knowledge and experience having played abroad for years and with Cobh Ramblers here.
“Pat McCarthy is our goalkeeper coach and brings great knowledge and experience for our keepers and helps me out with loads of other things on match days too.
“Kevin O’Neill helps out with everything the team needs to function properly and is always on hand to call for if anything is needed at the club.”
O’Neill spent many years coaching schoolboy soccer in Cobh and the transition to adults this season has been a big change and an experience.
“It's different obviously dealing with kids as you're not contacting them directly and they generally don't need motivation to turn up to training. It's part of them growing up and they have mam and dad dropping them to training and matches.
"With adults there's a lot more going on in a sense that you're dealing with work and family commitments as well as students living the student life.
“It’s great to see such a good standard in the league. There's some great talent to be seen in the MSL and with facilities and pitches considerably improved the future is bright.
"Both Cork City and Cobh Ramblers are full of examples of players moving from senior football to League of Ireland level and that's the highest standard in the country.”
With regards to LOI football, having watched many games this season, O’Neill is sad to see his former club near the bottom of the first division however he is confident that Darren Murphy is the main to get them back up the table next season.
“It's been a tough season for Ramblers but remember there's been a change in management during the season which obviously affects things in the club and most importantly players. Unfortunately, it's not gone to plan but I look forward to next season with new manager Darren Murphy from the start to see the team he will build.
"There’s plenty of talent coming through the club so I have no doubt they are heading in the right direction.”