Keegan focused on ‘getting Cobh Ramblers into the promotion picture’

Keegan focused on ‘getting Cobh Ramblers into the promotion picture’

Cobh Ramblers manager Shane Keegan at St Colman's Park. Picture: Michael P Ryan/Sportsfile

COBH Ramblers manager Shane Keegan is hoping that 2023 will prove to be an improved one on the field of play for the St Colman’s Park side.

After taking over in the middle of the 2022 campaign, the winter months provide Keegan with a good chance to assess areas of improvement for the 2023 season ahead.

“You’d be regularly in contact with the boys themselves from last year,” Keegan said.

“We won’t have a huge turnover, the vast majority will probably be back on board this year.

“Then it is about trying to get new faces in around the place to freshen it up and give the place a boost, give you that extra bit of quality.

“I am trying to flesh out the backroom staff a bit as well, so there are plenty of conversations going on around that as well. We are getting there slowly but surely I think.” 

 Former Waterford first team coach Fran Rockett returns to the club as Keegan’s assistant manager in the Ramblers' first team.

When the 2023 League Of Ireland First Division season gets underway, it will be another highly competitive league. Waterford and Galway United will be operating on full-time models, while Finn Harps under a new manager in Dave Rogers will be looking to get promoted back at the first time of asking.

The likes of Bray and Wexford appear to have strengthened their squads, while Longford Town will very likely challenge under former Ramblers manager Stephen Henderson.

As to what Cobh Ramblers will be looking to target in the 2023 season, Keegan describes:

“Look there is no doubt it will mean having to punch above our weight. We will be ranked eighth, ninth or 10th in the First Division in terms of our budget.

“So therefore to try and land fifth position does require you punching well above our weight. But it is doable and to be fair to Treaty United, they showed it is doable last year.

“There is no doubt we want to try and get ourselves into the promotion picture. If we were heading into the final round of games and it was still a very doable achievement to potentially nick the 5th place promotion spot, that is our primary aim.

“It is doable if you set yourself up right and have a very defined way of going about things, with everybody committing themselves to a way of going about things.

“Treaty were fantastic at that and everybody knew what their roles were last year, everybody bought into the idea of the sum of their parts. That is very much what we have to do and that would be serious going, Keegan added:

“What we did with Wexford in 2015, we literally finished first with a budget that should have had us seventh in an eight-team division that season.

“But we finished top. So remarkable things can happen if everybody pulls in the right direction.

“That is what I want to do. If we were to finish 6th next season rather than fifth, well then you are still going to class that as a successful season.

“The whole thing is just to put us in that picture, heading into the final round of games, supporters are turning up saying we are right in this.

“To be fair that is another one of the targets, is to try and put bums on seats. I fully believe and I have seen it before in the past, there is no doubt the support in Cobh will get behind you if you give them a reason to get behind you.

“You have to get them excited and you have to get yourself into the picture for things. That is what we have to try and do.” 

Ramblers recently released a statement that they need to consider a move away from their fan-owned model and look for outside investment, in order to see the club target their long-term ambitions on the field of play.

After getting a number of months to assess things, Shane Keegan will hope his first chance of putting a proper stamp on things can see Cobh going in the right direction in the short term.

Keegan guided Wexford to a First Division title in 2015, although it was far from an overnight success and years of work went into that feat.

Over the foreseeable, he will hope to guide Ramblers back into the promotion mix.

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