DEFENDER Harlain Mbayo is very much settled into living in Cobh and playing League of Ireland football for Cobh Ramblers.
Mbayo is someone who is determined to showcase his footballing ability in Cobh and also play his part in progressing Ramblers forward on the pitch.
After growing up in Belgium, the defender spent time with the Anderlecht academy, before moving to England and was on the books of QPR and Oxford United in the underage ranks.
Mbayo, a former U21 international for the Democratic Republic of the Congo also spent time in Scotland including a period in Scotland with Aberdeen.
Speaking to The Echo, 24-year-old Mbayo explains how he has found life with Cobh Ramblers.
“So far I have enjoyed my time with Cobh. I think being around the club, training-wise and the matches I have enjoyed, they have been competitive.
“I like everyone and it is an easy place to enjoy. The manager, the staff and the players, even outside the football, the chairman and the community, everyone has been good. So it has been a good start. All in all, I have enjoyed my time so far in Cobh.
“Everyone has been really good to me since I’ve come here.
I like Cobh, it is really peaceful. I feel like for me right now, that’s what I need. I need somewhere quiet and peaceful, not too much outside noise. Just to play and enjoy my football.”
Ramblers are currently in eighth place in the First Division table and you could argue that based on their performances, especially in the local derby against Cork City, this is a false position.
Assessing how the 2022 season has gone to date for Cobh, Mbayo hopes performances can be turned into positive results in the coming months.
“On our day we know we are a very hard team to beat. As a group of players, there is so much confidence because we know how good we are. We are a good group of players and when we put it all together, everyone can see how good of a team we are.
“I think we have picked up momentum at the right time. We picked up another point in Bray, where I felt we should have got three.”
Mbayo has been working under Ramblers boss Darren Murphy the last few months, and the side are keen to turn more good performances into further points on the board.
On what he enjoys the most working under Murphy as the Cobh boss, Mbayo said: “I think his outlook and just his man-management skills. For us the intentions were clear, we are aiming for the play-off places and it is a big year for Cobh Ramblers.
“Darren has been brilliant. He and the whole of the staff, their attention to detail is really good. There is nothing that they miss or whether it is analysis on other teams.
“For a part-time team, they do all that they can for us. Everything is really professional. They do to their maximum and more to make sure that we have the best chance of winning football matches.
When you have a manager that really wants you to do well like that, it is infectious and you want to do well for him and all the staff. I really like working under him.”
Ramblers are in action tonight when they play host to Galway United at St Colman’s Park. It promises to be an intriguing clash in Cobh, with John Caulfield’s Galway side seeking to keep up the pressure on the current First Division leaders Cork City, in the battle for automatic promotion.
Former Cobh man David Hurley has netted on three occasions for Galway so far this term, including in the most recent victory for them, against Longford Town.
Looking ahead to tonight's game against Galway, Mbayo outlines: “We will be expecting them to be competitive just like any team. It is not really about what they do, because we know if we start right and we start the way that we want to go on, then we will trouble them.
“It will be about what we do and how they react to us. But it will be a tough game because Galway are a good side.”
Caulfield is very much seeking to take Galway on a route back to League Of Ireland Premier Division Football.
But Harlain Mbayo and Cobh Ramblers will have other ideas and will be seeking to secure a positive result.