COBH RAMBLERS travel to face Waterford FC in a League of Ireland First Division Munster Derby on Friday night at the RSC.
Fresh off a heavy defeat at the hands of John Caulfield’s Galway United, this game is arguably one of the toughest that Ramblers could possibly face, against a Waterford side with numerous attacking threats.
The gap between Cobh and the full-time First Division teams was evident on Friday night last, with Galway picking up a comfortable victory.
Galway were in strong control throughout. To be fair to Ramblers, there is a gap already being created between the three clubs at the top of the First Division (Cork City, Galway United and Waterford) and the rest.
Based on recent results, it appears likely at this stage City, Galway and Waterford will pull away over the coming months, although Longford might have something to say about that.
It appears at this stage realistically Ramblers will have their best chance of picking up results against the latter remaining teams in the Division.
Cobh and Darren Murphy could have few complaints about the result last Friday and will be looking for at the very least an improved performance down in Waterford.
There was a mood of disappointment around St Colman’s Park after the Galway clash.
It was after 10.15pm, almost 45 minutes after full time, when the Ramblers manager Darren Murphy came out to do his post-match media duties, following what must have been not an easy immediate post-match debrief with the players and coaching staff.
At this stage of the season Ramblers already are facing a big uphill task to try and climb into those playoff places, which they are currently 8pts behind current fifth-placed side Treaty United.
Without question there has been excellent progress made off the pitch at the St Colman’s Park club. Now the challenge over the next few years is to try and mirror that on the field.
Even at this stage of the season, a big upsurge in form will be required. The stats from Cobh’s season so far paint a picture that shows they are potentially where they are in the table on merit. There have been glimpses of potential, but they have not been consistent enough.
Out of 13 games played so far, Ramblers have won just twice, scoring 13 goals and conceding 29 goals. Only Athlone have suffered more defeats than Cobh in the league this season so far.
Friday’s game promises to be an intriguing evening for Cobh assistant boss Fran Rockett.
Rockett came through the ranks at Tramore AFC and Waterford United. He then spent two seasons at Cobh as a player in 2005 and 2006, before signing for Kilkenny City.
Rockett later had four seasons coaching with Waterford and took over their senior team from John Sheridan for the conclusion of the 2020 season. While Darryl Walsh and Jack Larkin are both former Waterford players.
This current Waterford team on paper were many people’s strong favourites to win the League of Ireland First Division title before a ball was kicked back in February.
Waterford still do have a squad that can go on a strong run of form. But the question also is if they do go on a winning run, will the likes of City and Galway United drop points ahead of them?
The Blues, who parted company with Ian Morris as first-team manager a couple of weeks ago, have won their last three league games in a row under the caretaker management of Gary Hunt and David Breen In Phoenix Patterson, Waterford have potentially the most talented attacking player in the First Division.
Patterson in the past has played U23s football with Watford and Tottenham Hotspur, where his teammate was current Republic of Ireland senior international Troy Parrott.
While another dangerman for Waterford is Junior Quitirna, who is a former Charlton Athletic player.
When the teams met most recently at St Colman’s Park back in early April, it was Waterford that came away with a comfortable 4-0 win.
The goals on the night came from a brace by Patterson, along with goals by George Forrest and Cian Kavanagh.
Waterford come into the game with Ramblers after a most recent win away to Bray Wanderers.
All recent form from this one suggests Waterford should be making it another league victory on Friday night.
Cobh will be hoping to very much bounce back and tear that script up.