A NEW era at Cobh Ramblers begins this evening with newly-appointed manager Shane Keegan excited by the project which lies ahead at St Colman’s Park.
The former Dundalk, Galway United, and Wexford boss has signed a deal which will see him in charge until the end of the 2023 season.
Keegan’s first game at the helm is tonight’s home clash with Treaty United (7.45pm). He
knows the League Of Ireland and domestic Irish football extremely well and also knows what it takes to win the First Division, having done so with Wexford Youths in 2015.
Keegan will be hoping to take Cobh on a similar journey in the coming years.
“There are massive similarities in terms of the starting point. I won’t say it is a case of that the only way is up,” Keegan told The Echo.
“But when you come into a set-up like this, it is a hell of a lot harder than to come into a set-up where everything has been perfect and rosy; where the manager has moved on because he has been poached by another club.
“That is the way I am looking at it. It will be a reasonably slow burner. I am sure I don’t expect us to take off and win every game from now until the end of the season. But as long as we can see signs of things moving in the right direction and by the end of the season we are looking around and saying we have the makings of a right good crack at this next year.
“If we can tweak things here and there over the course of the off-season, that is what the aim has to be.
“Short-term has got to be purely just about performances on the pitch. From my point of view, tonight, if we put on an excellent performance and just came out on the wrong side of it, I would actually take that rather than a really poor performance that somehow held out for a 0-0 draw.
“It is trying to see signs of lads taking information on board early and us trying to show early shoots of the direction we are trying to go in.
“Now it is a hell of a lot to ask for lads to take too much on board and too much of mine or our stamp on it tonight. But over the course of July we will get there all going well.
“If I am completely honest about it, I am a hell of a lot more concerned about where we are on this day in 12 months’ time than where we are on Saturday morning.
“I think an improvement in terms of what the performance looks like on the pitch over the short term would be the biggest thing that I’d be looking for.
So long as what we are seeing on the pitch are signs of things moving in the right direction, signs of progress, and most importantly, signs of lads getting fully behind what we are trying to do.”
As Cobh’s most recent game against Cork City showed, there were signs of something for Keegan to work with
When asked if he felt that the squad is there to get more wins on the board, Keegan replied: “Absolutely, no doubt about it. I am one of these numbers geeks in terms your Wyscout and the stats.
“If you look at it over the course of the season, maybe the last few games Darren (Murphy) mightn’t be as happy But earlier in the season there is no doubt that the club were incredibly unfortunate not to end up with more points on the board.
“So there are some cracking young players there. Most of them will be very new to me.
“We are straight into it tonight and I am really looking forward to getting to know the faces and personalities around the place.”
The Laois native initially made his name at Wexford, belying their limited budget to guide them to the First Division title in 2015.
Ramblers fans will be hoping he can take the club on a similar journey over the next few seasons.