The Stark Reality? – PearceyPlays #FM20 Season 4 – Part 31 – Cobh Ramblers – April 2022

Hoping for a better outcome than Tone

Simply put – We’re not good enough to be at this level yet. We got there via an astonishing spell of form over the last couple of months of the 2021 season but 2 of the main protagonists (Sammon & Evans) are now first-teamers for Shamrock Rovers, and we’re scrabbling to get the team cohesion back together. What we need to do is try and stay up, keep Sligo behind us, hopefully at worst have a 2-game playoff, most probably versus Limerick or Drogheda, as Bohemians are looking like they will come straight back up. Or I can leave a sinking ship… we shall see.

This month is a bit mad – 8 games, 7 in the league – If we can get 7 points somehow that would be amazing.

We’ve got to target the Sligo and Shelbourne games – points anywhere else would be a bonus, especially Dundalk twice in 4 days.

National B Licence got – Now studying for the National A (4 Months) while we have money to do so.

1st April 2022 – Sligo Rovers (H) – Irish Premier Division

We welcome a Sligo team to St. Colman’s Park this evening who have a new manager, Stephen O’Donnell, in post snce 22nd March and in his first game as Manager. He had 2 seasons as manager of St. Pat’s but has been out of management for 10 months. They have lost their last 5 matches straight, and 9 of their last 10, so lets make it 10 from 11.

A small change – bringing Porter back to a midfield 3, with Phillips in the centre as the BWM (Potential that could become a DM, O’Riordan ready to take that role). A few player changes as Hurley, Fleming & Hughes are all suspended, Collins and Meade the centre-back pairing, Taylor at right wingback, both wingbacks now more defensively minded. O’Neill up top as a more physically-imposing lone striker. Lawal also not playing as he’s knackered after 3 U19 games for Ireland in a week. Sligo go with a 4-3-3 – We will play extremely wide down the wings I think, seems to work really well against a 4-3-3 Narrow.

FT Cobh Ramblers 2 (O’Neill pen 72, Costelloe 74) Sligo Rovers 2 (Coughlan 3, 33) Att 371 (98 Away)

We all know how these games against the bottom team go usually; they tend to be really tough. And Sligo go 1-0 up in the 3rd minute when a punted clearance finds Coughlan, who phases through Meade to score from 7 yards. Wingbacks to FB(D)(Kehoe) and IWB(D)(Taylor), Phillips to BWM(S) in the DM space. 2-0 in the 33rd, Coughlan unmarked, heading in from 10 yards. We are absolute dogshit. 2-0 at HT.

An open start to the second half, but we look pretty toothless. Graydon and O’Riordan on for Melody and Phillips on 60, Wingbacks to Attack and up to a Positive mentality. We just don’t belong – passing going astray, not winning rebounds, that type of stuff. But in the 72nd minute we win a Penalty, Graydon pushed by Coughlan. O’Neill steps up and slots home. Can we somehow rescue a point here? Maybe we can!!! Just over 2 minutes later we clear a Sligo free kick, O’Riordan gets on the end of it and sprays a 30 yard pass out wide, Costelloe gets on the end of that, sprints 40 yards and slots home from 12 or so to make it 2-2 out of nowhere. Game on. Douglas on for Taylor (Who is on a 5.9 and might have been sent off twice) for the last 20. Only 1 highlight though in those 20, we take a 2-2 draw – priceless in the context of the season I think.

Shelbourne get another win, this time versus second-placed Shamrock Rovers. Galway lose at Cork, meaning we are a point behind them with a game in hand, and 2 behind a struggling Waterford. Wexford next up in the League Cup in 5 days.

Our U19’s beat Limerick U19’s 2-1, goals from Mike Hourihane and James Hobbs.

Dara Costelloe in the Premier Division Team of the Week.

5th April 2022 – Wexford (A) – Irish League Cup 1st Round

We travel East to Wexford this evening for a League Cup tie versus old pals Wexford, currently 8th in the First Division.

Trying the defensive diamond in midfield with the wingbacks on Support, O’Riordan the point of the diamond at DM, though Lawal is very accustomed to this role (Resting him and Costelloe for the St. Pats league game in 4 days – Mihoubi for Costelloe). Graydon & Curran start at AML/STC respectively. Wexford start with a 4-4-2 – we also know how cup games versus lower level (But League) opposition can go…… I’d rather win as the morale boost is nice, but losing wouldn’t be the worst thing ever with our calendar as it is.

FT Wexford 1 (Furlong 84) Cobh Ramblers 0 Att 177 (No Away Fans)

We start in our light blue away shirts Extra Time & Pens are a possible outcome if we can’t put this game to bed in normal time this evening. A very quiet half, no highlights until after the 30th minute. 0-0 at HT.

Hurley on for O’Riordan at HT as we go back to the 4-2-3-1, looking for goals, extremely wide, all that good stuff. And we scored just before 50 minutes, Curran however was well offside, trying to get back onside. And Curran should have taken the lead in the 64th minute, hitting the ball straight at the Keeper from 10 yards. Melody on for Graydon soon after. 4-2-4 for the last 15, O’Neill for Porter. Piling on the pressure. And then Wexford score from nowhere, because of course they do, Furlong set free to score from 15. Curran gets another offside goal in injury time but we lose 1-0. Poor yet again.

Our result was maybe the only real shock. Both Sligo & Galway went 120 minutes in their games, hopefully denting their chances of results on Friday. The League Cup was a ‘Not Important’ with the board.

8th April 2022 – St. Pat’s Athletic (A) – Irish Premier Division

Richmond Park, Dublin – Home of St. Pat’s Athletic

We make the 160 mile journey to Inchicore, Dublin 8, to play the league leaders St. Pat’s. 7 Wins and 2 Draws in the league this season – indeed we are the only team to score more than once against them in a game (In the 3-2 loss at the end of February at St. Colmans). This is a free hit – there are 7 teams in the league with wage bills over £500k/annum (Sligo are 4th with £644k) – Us and Galway are £250k or below… Indeed the top 5 teams in the First Division all have wage bills the same or more than us (£226k) so it shows our promotion last year was always going to mean a horribly tough season this year.

We’re reverting to a cautious approach – less pressing, more counters, Lawal as a defensive DM, Phillips as a CM (Devine as a sub). Lewis starts at right WB. St. Pat’s start with a 3-4-1-2(!) – Going to attack them wide I think.

FT St. Pat’s Athletic 0 Cobh Ramblers 2 (Costelloe 25, Lawal 90+4) Att 1,331 (38 Away)

A very interesting formation this evening from St. Pat’s – lets see if there’s a clash of styles or if St. Pat’s are far too good for us – worried it will be the latter. A decent chance early for Cobh though – Costelloe shooting tamely at the Keeper. A really quiet first quarter, but Cobh then take the lead!! Lewis out on the touchline slipped through Ryan Graydon, pulling the St. Pat’s back 3 out of position. His cross found Costelloe, who powered a header home from 8 yards. Great play lads!! We are definitely getting some joy against this formation – their lack of wide cover is really playing into our hands. And then a madness – 42nd minute, a Cobh corner swung in by Alan kehoe, and Graydon is pushed by Doona. Curran to take the Penalty – Saved by Bossin down to his right…. A real let-off for St. Pat’s (Curran has 17 Penalty Taking as well…). We go in 1-0 up – a really good half, such a shame the penalty didn’t go in.

Fleming on for Lewis at half time (A bruised knee). Will give Phillips (On a yellow) another 15 I think, just don’t get sent off (again). St. Pat’s look shattered, lots of sub-70% condition already. 58th minute, should have been 2-0, Costelloe blasting over at the far post after a good team move. Hurley on for Phillips. Last sub (After a goalmouth scramble that we clear from the 6-yard box) – O’Neill for Curran – and we change tactics to try and hold on to the ball a bit more. Into the last 10, St. Pat’s now coming at us in waves. Injury Time… And it’s a break… AND A GOAL TO COBH!!!!!! 2-0, 90+4, Charlie Fleming breaks after a cleared free-kick, to Graydon, to Hurley, who slips in DM(D) Lawal who scores his first for the club through Keeper Bossin’s hands. Deserved the way we have played this evening. And it’s all over, 3 amazing points – if we can occasionally play like this we can stay up!!

A huge result, with Galway losing and Sligo/Shelbourne drawing. Better than a point per game currently, 32 points would have been safe in 8th last season, 31 the season before that and 28 in 2019, so we are doing all we can. As long as we can break losing streaks regularly, that will be the key. Plus that helps morale and cohesion no end.

Our U19’s beat UCD U19’s 4-1 – Goals from Jack Funge, James Hobbs, John O’Brien and David McMahon.

11th April 2022 – Shelbourne (A) – Irish Premier Division

We travel to Dublin again (Our 6th Away game in the last 7) for our 4th game of the month to face a Shelbourne side currently a point above us in 6th. A win here would put us mid-table, but as with every game in this division we are not favourites. Shelbourne seem to be as inconsistent as us so i hope the amazing 2-0 win at St. Pat’s will give us a big boost.

Not too many changes, as with rest everybody is the right side of 90% condition. Hurley in for Phillips, O’Neill for Curran – Cork City are next up in 5 days so I’m looking for a really good result here before (possible) rotation. Shelbourne start with a 4-2-1-3 (2 DM) formation – might be some gaps in midfield tonight!!

FT Shelbourne 1 (Brennan 42) Cobh Ramblers 2 (O’Neill 24, Graydon 38) Att 637 (36 Away)

We’re in our away kit tonight in Dublin 3, and Dara Costelloe is in the book after 20 seconds for a lunge on Cobh-old-boy Jaze Kabia. A quiet first 15, pretty even with a highlight each. Cobh with the better of the chances around the 20 minute mark. And it’s Cobh who take the lead 🙂 A break is curtailed by a poor O’Neill pass behind Costelloe, but Dara does what he does and finds a lovely over the midfield to O’Neill, who skipped past a Shelbourne centre-back to fire past McCabe from 12 yards for his 3rd goal of the season. 1-0 Cobh. And it’s 2-0 in the 38th – a real defensive mix-up as a Kehoe cross has 2 Shelbourne defenders go for the same ball – Graydon on hand to tap home at the 2nd attempt. Can we keep it scoreless before half-time? No, but it takes a 25-yarder from Brennan. 2-1 Cobh. And that’s how the half finishes.

Shelbourne start the 2nd half strongly, Brennan saved well by Mylod in the first 40 seconds of the half. Again we nearly score from a Long Throw, Porter this time denied by McCabe. 65 gone, Kehoe looking a bit tired, Fleming on. 70 gone, time to slow it down a bit, try and frustrate Shelbourne. 73rd minute, Graydon heads against the bar… 75 gone, Brian McManus on as a CM(S) in place of Hurley, fresh legs in Centre Mid. Last sub, Devine for Porter for the last few as a CM(A). Please let us hang on!!! AND WE DO!! 2-1 win, 6 points from 2 games, another massive result away from home 🙂

Getting a nose-bleed 🙂 6th, level on points with Derry in 5th, just 4 goals behind. Waterford are having a shocker, seeing they finished 2nd last season!!. Another 20 points from the remaining 25 games and we’ll be safe I reckon, especially as a good few of these teams may have a few European games in July that we won’t. Cork next up on Friday at Turners Cross – a free hit again.

Keeper Adam Mylod in the Irish Premier Division Team of the Week – 7.15 average over 2 matches!!

15th April 2022 – Cork City (A) – Irish Premier Division

We make the very short trip to Turners Cross this evening (15 miles) on 14 points from 11 games, playing our 7th away game out of the last 8 to play a Cork City side 2 places and 4 points above us. 32 points would mean 8th in the last 3 seasons, so the target is 18 points from the last 25 games. Simple 🙂 Cork haven’t lost in their last 4 games but have drawn their last 2, versus Waterford & Derry, and we drew with them in February at home so there’s the potential there for a point if we play as well as we have over the last 2 games.

Pierce Phillips gets his chance against this old club, in place of Hurley. Everybody else as is. Cork start with a 4-4-1-1.

FT Cork City 1 (Stokes 90+1) Cobh Ramblers 1 (O’Neill 89) Att 4,928 (260 Away)

I’m saying this now – we’ve got to fancy our chances of a point at least (famous last words). A quiet enough start, with Cork hitting the outside of the post after 7 minutes the only thing of note in the first 10. Cobh with a couple of chances soon after. Cork really pressing today – slowing down the pace a bit to give ourselves a bit more time. Cork have the ball in the net in the 26th minute, but Morrissey (And 3 other Cork players) were well offside. We go in at 0-0, a tight affair so far.

A quietish start to the half, though Cobh hit the bar in the 54th minute – a Lawal free kick headed by Collins. 61 gone, Melody on for Costelloe as an IF(A), Kehoe WB(S) on overlaps. 72 gone, Fleming for Lewis at DR (WB(S)). Cobh had the ball in the net in the 80th minute – disallowed for pushing by Porter. Last sub, Hurley for Phillips as a BWM(S). Cork go to a very attacking 4-3-3, we’re happy to drop a little and slow it down. Then the unthinkable happens. 89th minute, Cobh clear a Cork City corner; the ball makes its way up the pitch, Hurley heads it through and Paul O’Neill gets hold of it, takes it 20 yards and scores beautifully from just outside the box. 1-0 Cobh!! But then wouldn’t you believe it, Cork come straight back and score a 30 yarder…. Stokes with the goal literally from nowhere. Seriously!!! Don’t you fucking dare!! It finishes 1-1 – an amazing point but it would have been 3 without an absolute worldie.

Still 6th! Dundalk look like Champions-Elect as expected – and we have them home and away next Friday, then on Monday 25th April in the league, so 2 free-hits there. Galway pick up another point, sharing the spoils with Sligo (Which I’m perfectly fine with) and Waterford lose yet again. One-third the way through the season, absolutely ecstatic with where we are currently. 8 points in the league from the last 12 available! However Kehoe, Lawal, Porter & Costelloe will all be unavailable for the first Dundalk game after getting to their 4th yellow card each of the season…

Encouraging positive relationships across the game 🙂

Bosun Lawal was looking a bit jaded – he’s on holiday now (We have a week between games and he’s both suspended for the first Dundalk match and couldn’t play anyway as Dundalk are his parent club), back on 23rd April ready for the Waterford game on the 29th. After this crazy month we have a maximum of 5 games per month from then on, so I think this little break will see him through. He’s still only 18 as well, need to remember that with how he’s playing – he’s running the game from the DM position.

Ou U19’s lost 1-0 to Kerry.

Paul O’Neill makes the Irish Premier Division Team of the Week 🙂

Also just had a note that the Munster Senior Cup Semi Final has been moved to 1st June due to Cork City v Limerick in the League Cup 3rd Round – Now just the 4 league games in May, all Friday’s so plenty of rest time (especially as we’re part-timers with 2 training sessions per week – Only Shelbourne, Galway and us are Semi-Pro in the Premier Division).

22nd April 2022 – Dundalk (H) – Irish Premier Division

We welcome Dundalk to St. Colman’s Park this evening knowing we’ve got almost no chance of getting anything from the game. Dundalk have won their last 13 competitive matches, with just their first day of the season (1-0 loss v Cork City) being anything other than a win. We are also without 4 first teamers through suspension… Just noticed they’ve also not let a goal in since 22nd February – 10 matches, 10 clean sheets……………

A good few changes as Costelloe (Graydon as an IW, Melody to right wing), Porter(Devine as a DLP(S)), Lawal (McManus as a BWM(S)) and Kehoe (Phillips) are all suspended for picking up 4 yellows. Hurley in at CM(S) with Phillips back at left back. We play them again on Monday, with those 4 guys back, so hopefully the enforced rotation wont be too bad a thing. Dundalk start with a 4-4-2 – let’s try not to get pumped.

FT Cobh Ramblers 1 (O’Neill 79) Dundalk 3 (McEleney pen 4, Kelly 72, Hoban 82) Att 398 (122 Away)

A strong start from Dundalk, plenty of pressing and getting to the ball first, as you’d expect from players of their quality. And they get a Penalty in the 4th minute – Duffy brought down by Fleming. McEleney tucked the penalty away. Graydon came close with a header in the 16th minute. And its been really quiet for the rest of the half – the occasional Dundalk foray forward, but some good defending by the Cobh boys keep it to just 1-0 at half time.

A slow start to the half – on 60 both wingbacks come off, Douglas for Phillips and Taylor for Fleming. But it’s 2-0 in the 72nd, a weak goal, dinked ball over the top of our Standard-line defence, Collins at fault, Jordan Kelly with his 10th of the season. Mihoubi on for the last 15 as a normal left winger. And we’ve only gone and scored!!! A Taylor long throw flicked on by Conor Melody, O’Neill in the right place to head in his 5th goal of the season. Surely not, that’s just a consolation? And we did score again, in the 81st, but O’Neill was half a yard off (And he really didn’t need to be, a real shame). Bear poked, it was 3-1 Dundalk in the 82nd, Hoban heading in from 10 yards. Coming into the last few minutes I notice they’ve not made any subs… Hope this helps us on Monday! And it’s all over – 3-1 Dundalk, but considering we had 4 first-team startes out that was creditable – They have 10 players on over a grand a week!

Still 6th, with all the teams below only gaining 1 point for a load of draws. And we have the 3 lads back for Monday’s game (Lawal’s parent club is Dundalk) 🙂 Could be interesting if the AI idiolect doesn’t rotate or rest players!!

Our U19’s lost 1-0 to Cork City U19’s.

25th April 2022 – Dundalk (A) – Irish Premier Division

We make the trip to Dundalk with Kehoe, Costelloe & Porter all available, so we can get back to a more normal line-up (Notwithstanding Bosun Lawal, who can’t play against his parent club).

McManus plays as the CM today – Hurley the DM. Hoping for Costelloe to get involved. Dundalk with a 4-4-2 again, they look unchanged in the main.

FT Dundalk 0 Cobh Ramblers 1 (O’Neill 24) Att 2,857 (27 Away)

A good first 10 – we looked really good on the ball in the highlight we had. We look the better team and we go 1-0 up in the 24th minute!!!. Nice play by McManus, he swings a ball over to Costelloe, who runs with it into the box, the Dundalk defenders wary of the peno. He dinks a little cross over and O’Neill gets another goal! A little left-foot side foot volley, placed past O’Malley (£1,900/week). And we go in at half time 1-0 to the good!!! A superb half from the boys. Even if we come out of this with nothing we are showing we can disrupt a team with a wage bill 10-times ours!

Expecting a bit of a backlash to be honest. And Dundalk hit the post in the 52nd minute – is the luck with us?? 60 gone, Fleming on as a FB(D) as Kehoe is withdrawn as well. 70 gone – Phillips in for McManus as a BWM(S). Melody on for the last 10 in place of Graydon. Slowing the game down to a crawl. And just before the subs get on it’s nearly 2-0 – A Graydon header from a corner flicked over by O’Malley. 88 minutes, Mylod makes a tremendous save from Duffy… 4 minutes injury time… 93:54, Corner Dundalk… No, it’s a goal kick 🙂 And it’s over!!!!! A 1-0 win for Cobh!!!! #Scenes. Just the 8 bookings as well…

5 points clear in 6th 🙂 Ecstatic is not the word! I’d say we’re 4 wins or so from safety with 22 games left 🙂 Shelbourne losing again plus St. Pat’s early season form dropping off a bit.

If we beat Cork City in the other Munster Senior Cup Semi Final we will be playing Limerick – Quite the match!

So we have our last match of the month in 5 days – Waterford at home. We’ve only lost to Dundalk, and picked up 11 points, more than my wildest expectations.

Alan Kehoe & Adam Hughes get into the Premier Division Team of the Week.

Fuck. Off. Game. 2 of our most important players injured in the same strength & conditioning session!! – Dara will miss 3 or 4 games, Charlie possibly 8. Luckily we are back to a regular Friday matches in May (We just have the 4 games) so I’m hoping we don’t get too stretched, especially on the wings.

29th April 2022 – Waterford (H) – Irish Premier Division

We welcome a Waterford side with a manager under massive pressure (Just Insecure currently, but with Insecure Finances also) and a team that hasn’t won in 8 games (LLDDLLLD). Honestly don’t know what is going on there TBH. However they finished 2nd last year so this is bound to be a tough game.

Melody & Mihoubi start as Costelloe is out injured and Graydon is owned by Waterford. Lawal back in as the DM, Hurley back to CM. If we could eke another point out of this amazing month I’d be really happy, but who knows? Waterford go with a 4-4-2.

FT Cobh Ramblers 2 (Mihoubi 1, Hurley 52) Waterford 0 Att 406 (134 Away)

Waterford kick off but it’s 1-0 Cobh just inside a minute!! A Conor Melody corner is missed at the near post by a Waterford defender and Lyamine Mihoubi is on hand to volley the ball past Connor in the Waterford net. Wow! Cobh definitely on top early doors. very quiet as we approach the half hour, but Mihoubi could have made it 2 for him and 2 for Cobh. the Waterford defence look to be at sixes and sevens, Elbouzedi passing it to Mihoubi with him on the edge of the area, but his shot was tame and at the Keeper. Lots of red Body Language on the Waterford side as the manager continually gets their backs up – signs of low cohesion and even lower morale. We go in at half time 1-0 to the good 🙂

Waterford start with more intent, Mylod keeping the game 1-0 with a good save low to his left in the 47th minute. And the impossible happens! Dave Hurley gets his 1-goal per season, and it’s an absolute Thunderbastard – I cracked my head on the dugout as I rushed onto the pitch it was that good 🙂 Melody gets the ball on the right, crosses, is cleared but only to Hurley, who passes to Porter on the edge, gets the ball back from him and twats it 4ft up inside the left post from all of 25 yards – the ball was past the keeper before he dived. Goal of the Month contender. 2-0 Cobh. 70 gone, Meade on for Lewis (on a booking) as a DR FB(D). Kehoe back to WB(D). 80 Gone, McManus on for Mihoubi as a left Mezzala(S). Waterford have the ball in the net in the 84th, but Elbouzedi was a good 3 yards off. Phillips on for Hurley for the last 5. And that’s that!! What a month of football – 2-0 win, we go on!!! We bossed the game as well!!

8 points clear of 7th now as Galway & Shelbourne lose, with Sligo just getting a point. I’m a very very happy boy!! Dundalk having their first draw of the season with Shamrock Rovers.

Well, what a month that was!!!

Forgetting the (forgettable) League Cup loss versus Wexford we picked up 14 points from the 7 League games this month (W4 D2 L1). We know things can revert back, but I’m far more confident now when I look at our dynamics.

Good Team Cohesion – you can see it in the highlights, players linking up so much better, getting to the loose ball first. And with a very good dressing room atmosphere I think (With a good next couple of months) we could be pretty safe with over 10 games left.

Next month sees just the 4 matches – tough ones versus Derry & Shamrock book-ending winnable ones versus Galway & Shelbourne. Our slightly more Cautious play (Changed during/after the Sligo draw) has really come into its own, and I hope to see it go from strength to strength.

There’s a couple of days left, so there’s the last few bits to go through.

We didn’t have a Head of Youth development, so in comes Emmett McGuckin, 16 Working with Youngsters, Balanced, Good Discipline. He was a striker with Coleraine, as is still IRL. he’s a cross-codes sportsperson as well, playing GAA/Gaelic Football for Derry. Welcome to the party Emmett 🙂

Emmett McGuckin

Our U19’s won 2-1 versus Edenferry in a friendly – Goals from Daire Doherty & Anthony Meade.

And that’s that, see you soon for (hopefully) more success. Now, get some popcorn, below are the Key Highlights from all 8 games this month. See you soon.

April 2022 Key Highlights

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