Cobh Wanderers boss Davin O'Neill on why the club is looking up this season

East Cork outfit hope to improve on last year's seventh place Munster Senior League finish
Cobh Wanderers boss Davin O'Neill on why the club is looking up this season

Luke Smith, Cobh Wanderers, battling Alex Minihane, UCC, in the MSL Senior Premier at the Stephen Ireland Astro. Picture: Jim Coughlan.

COBH Wanderers manager Davin O’Neill is expecting a better season this year from his side following his maiden campaign in charge of the team. 

Wanderers finished seventh in the Munster Senior League last year and O’Neill is hoping to be a lot closer to the teams at the top of the division this time out.

Reflecting on his first year in management; the former Cork City player did not anticipate the time he would invest into the role and sees himself as an understanding manager to different circumstances.

“I think it was a lot busier than I expected it to be quite honest with you. I know it’s amateur, but you are still heavily involved, especially with the players. In terms of knowing the players' routines, what days and times suit players for training, trying to figure out then the numbers available the day of a session, because that can always change, and trying to plan a session around how many people are there. 

"Then you have players who will have holidays booked that might be unavailable for a certain period of time. You have the man management side of things as well and I was in contact with lads a lot more than I thought I would be.

“I think I’m very understanding with players missing games or training for certain reasons, as long as they are honest with me. Everyone is entitled to time off with their family. 

You want to avoid being too heavy on players and be military-like. But at the same time, you do need commitment from them to get results that you are looking for." 

It’s about trying to get that balance between the two.

“We didn’t have any issues last year regarding what we have just spoken about. From day one; I told the lads what was expected of them. If they had any issues, they would just come to me as soon as possible. 

"That seemed to work. Players are always going to have issues where they have unexpected weeks of something that they cannot control like working late, or their partners booking weekends away without them knowing, so you just have to deal with all of that. That’s just part of Munster Senior League football.

Davin O'Neill in his playing days with Cobh Wanderers. Picture: Jim Coughlan.
Davin O'Neill in his playing days with Cobh Wanderers. Picture: Jim Coughlan.

“The aim for this season is to build on last year. We finished seventh last year but for a lot of the season, we were aiming for the top three. And those ambitions were realistic up until the last five games of the season. Even down to the last game of the season against College Corinthians. 

"If we won we would have finished ahead of Corinthians. We would have finished fifth instead of seventh. Those are the fine margins you are looking at. But this year, we will be looking at challenging the likes of Rockmout and Carrigaline a lot more along with other clubs I would imagine. We will be up against good teams like Ringmahon and Midleton, so that is a challenge for us ahead and it’s something that we are going to enjoy."

LOYALTY

Signing players can be difficult for any Munster Senior League side but even more challenging for those located further from City. O’ Neill does focus more on recruiting players living closer to Cobh and believes the facilities the club offers help sell the club.

“We do run into issues signing lads more based in Cork city. We are more likely to be in contact with players that are in Little Island, Midleton, Carrigtwohill and of course lads from Cobh. 

"There is a good standard of players in Cobh because of Cobh Ramblers being in the League of Ireland. We have a lot of players who would have represented Ramblers at underage level that for one reason or another didn’t advance to the senior team that would then come to us. So, we have a good standard of players.

“It’s my job to recruit players. What I always point out is the standard they are playing at. The standards we set as a management team and the history of the club. 

Not so long ago, the club was in an Intermediate Cup final in the Aviva Stadium.

“The facilities as well are top class. Last year we were on the Stephen Ireland Astroturf which is a fantastic facility. We also are in the process of having a grass pitch ready for during the season. We have wonderful facilities to offer players.”

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