HE HAS been a key player in the League of Ireland for the past 10 years and Dave O’Leary still hopes to be a key player next season for Cobh Ramblers.
He has just finished a season with Cobh Ramblers having joined for the 2021 season signing from Munster Senior League outfit Avondale. Disappointed with their eighth-place finish in the First Division league, but confident next season can be a lot better.
“This season was one of the tougher ones to digest,” said O’Leary.
“We had a good group involved but results didn’t seem to fall our way. Knowing you have nothing to play for with six games to go is tough on anyone but it was nice to finish it on a high.
“We finished strongly and I suppose it takes a bit of time to adjust to a different style of play under a new manager.
“Darren came in around the halfway mark of the season and tried out a few things and players in positions and you can see by the way we finished the season, something was beginning to click.
“It was a shame in the end that the season had to finish. I knew from the start of the year it was going to be competitive. The caliber of player in this league just shows it.
“Players are choosing to play in the first division even though they have the ability to be playing in the premier so every game was going to be tough.
“Not making the playoffs was a bitter pill to swallow. It’s tough on everyone to take after putting in so much hard work throughout the year and have nothing to show for it at the end of the day.
“We played every team three times and can honestly say that it’s only a kick of a ball in it in most of the games.
“We just couldn’t get the rub of the green at times and instead were being heavily punished for our mistakes. I think if we start next season the way we finished it, things could be a lot different.
“I think there is a good group involved and I believe everyone is committed to the way Darren and the coaching staff want us to play.
“I think injuries played a big part this season with us so it’s vital to have a clean bill of health in the team to stay competitive.”
How much of an impact did the switching of new managers cause to the team?
“It’s only ever happened once in my career when a manager loses their job and it’s not easy on anyone.
“The players, staff, club all need to adjust and start from scratch. It might make a difference next season when having Darren there from the start. Pre-season will be starting a bit earlier next year so everyone will be ready to go come the start of the season.
“Was I pleased with my game-time and performances this season? I was and I wasn’t.
You always want to play as much as possible. Injuries unfortunately hampered the middle part of my season and I felt I only got back to where I wanted to be at the end of the season.
“The places available in midfield are always going to be competitive. You can see by the squad we had, the midfield was probably the most competitive.
“That is what you want though, keeps everyone on their toes and hungry to represent the club.”
The 29-year-old Blackrock man is in his 12th year at this level and through his experience, he hopes he can be a key player next season.
“I met with Darren last week and hope to stay. You can see all the work going on in the background and credit has to go to everyone involved.
“I believe next year marks Cobh’s 100-year anniversary so it will be a big year on and off the pitch and I’d hope to be a part of it.
“I started playing in the league when I was 17 with Limerick FC where we won the First Division in 2012.
“I signed with Cork City where we came runners up in John Caulfield’s first season. I signed with newly promoted Galway where we went on to lose the EA sports cup final on penalties. I have also played with Waterford and Shelbourne.
“I have plenty of experience and I hope to bring them to the squad again next season.”