THE Cobh Ramblers captain for the season ahead is Jason Abbott and he is someone determined to see his local side produce an improved campaign in the 2023 League Of Ireland First Division.
The 28-year-old teacher is someone with Cobh running through his veins and is somewhat a fitting captain for Shane Keegan’s side.
Coming through the underage system at Springfield Ramblers prior to joining the Cobh Ramblers U19s in 2011, Abbott has made over 90 first-team appearances for the St Colman’s Park side.
“It’s a great honour obviously being from Cobh and growing up supporting Ramblers all of my life and looking at past captains. In particular, John Meade, who is from Cobh, I got a nice message from him to wish us the best of luck for the season.
“It is a great honour to be captain and to be leading the lads. I literally live 200 yards from the stadium. But there are a lot of leaders in the team and it is not only me.”
Also having playing spells with Cork City, UCC and Cobh Wanderers, Abbott is very much hoping that Cobh Ramblers can build on their opening day League Of Ireland First Division victory when they play host to Wexford FC at St Colman’s Park on Friday, 7.45pm.
All things considered, it was a decent opening night win on the road for Ramblers, especially with the emotion and historic occasion for Kerry FC in their first game in League Of Ireland football.
That built on what was a productive pre-season for Ramblers under Keegan, who also added well to the first-team squad. There were early signs that Cobh could be an improved outfit.
Abbott describes on how the preparations went for the 2023 season: “You have to be hopeful and positive for every season. But in particular this season, the new lads have bedded in well and Jack (Doherty) got off to a great start with the goal. Tiernan (O’Brien) in his first year really as a senior player got a great goal.
“Wilson (Waweru), Charlie (Lyons), the list goes on and they are fantastic additions. Some of the new signings add a lot of experience.
“We are building a winning mentality continuing from our pre-season. We are looking forward to it and hopefully we can continue to win over the next couple of weeks.
“When Shane (Keegan) came in, he was trying to build his own foundations and tactics through last season. But it was great to get a pre-season under our belt with him and bring in the new additions that he has brought in.
“It is fantastic to have Fran Rockett (Cobh Ramblers assistant manager) back who is a massive addition to the team. Pre-season went really, really well. The lads have bonded really well.
“We had a lot of good results, but again it was only pre-season. It is all about the league and luckily we started off three points away to Kerry.
We are looking to continue that form hopefully. But we know it is early days and we are not getting carried away with anything.
“It is only one victory. There are another 35 games to go and it is a long season. But we can take confidence from the result.”
Wexford FC will be seeking to bounce back from their opening day defeat at home against Waterford.
A side that impressed during pre-season, Wexford have the potential to be a real dark horse in the promotion picture in the First Division.
Looking ahead to Friday’s game, Abbott is hoping Ramblers can build on the victory over Kerry and turn St Colman’s Park into a fortress.
“There is a great buzz around the because of the pre-season and the result last week. So we are expecting a decent crowd. Off the pitch the club is doing fantastic with Bill (O’Leary), Tony Flannigan and a lot of the volunteers that go unnoticed. So the club is moving forward.
“We have to perform then on the pitch to back up what they are doing off the pitch. The support was incredible last year, so hopefully it will be the same again this year.”
Following a good opening league outing, Ramblers will be looking to continue building some early season momentum when Wexford come to St Colman’s Park.