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Conor McDonald: The Student

Started on 18 April 2020 by Jack
Latest Reply on 8 May 2024 by Michael R Wilson

“Firstly, I would just like to say how appreciative I am for offering me the opportunity to present for you. I have always dreamt of being in a position like this since a little boy and realising that I didn’t have the required talent to become a footballer!

“I have worked so hard in every role and every situation I have been in to get to this point and it is a pleasure for you all to hear my proposals for the future of Cobh Ramblers.”

“To kick things off I would like to introduce you to my career so far, beginning from higher education. I was born in Liverpool, I’m 22 years old this September and born from a Northern Irish mother and an Irish father who emigrated to England a few years before I was born.

“I spent my main education in Liverpool as well as my time in college at the City of Liverpool College, studying Business Management. This helped me improve my business acumen to the level required to finish with an A* grade following two years at college.

“I then moved onto university, having offers from all over the country and Northern Ireland including Durham University, University College London and the University of Liverpool. However, I actually opted to do my bachelor’s degree at the newly founded UCFB - University Campus of Football Business at Burnley’s Turf Moor location. The university had only opened in 2011 and it showed me a way into the footballing world in a manner that no other offer could.

“In the summer period between college and university I decided to take up studying my first coaching badge with the English FA and I finally received the National C License qualification in January 2017, using the spare time and holidays that I had between my degree to complete it in what I think is an impressive timescale.

“Throughout my studies I also took up a part-time role as a data analyst for the development team at Burnley Football Club, working alongside some fairly impressive players at one of the most up-and-coming player development centres in the country under Ian Woan and Jonathan Pepper. I impressed there whilst also doing well on my degree and I received what I would describe as a promotion as I became a part-time coach with the Under 18 side which came with a pay rise and an opportunity to utilise my coaching badges.

“I finished my bachelor’s degree with the highest qualification classification, achieving a First in my course: Football Business & Talent Development. This led to my next venture as I graduated in March this year, I moved back to Merseyside and I was hired as a full-time coach at Tranmere Rovers for the Under 23 side which I felt was a huge step in my development in this direction. Anyway, I have been a coach there for little over three months when I saw a sea of vacancies open up throughout the summer and here I am today!”

Upon arriving here today, I took the liberty to take a second look at the expectations of a manager here at St. Colman’s Park. Avoid finishing bottom - which looking at the table, it seems Wexford are certain to finish. I did find the proposed expectations a little too lightweight for my liking though, so I edited them to what I think I could manage to do if given the role as first-team manager.”

“Unlike your expectation for the club to avoid finishing bottom, I would aim to comfortably finish above that expectation. The promotion play-offs seem very distant at this point but regardless, I want to build a positive platform for the club to bounce off going into the next season.

“In the Ford Cup, I want to reach the Second Round no matter what, rather than be competitive with no real aims. In the Senior Munster Cup too, which was raised as unimportant in the original expectations, I want every competition to mean something to us, so I want us to be competitive in that competition too.

“I realise that in the transfer department you would like to be seen as open to as many different viewpoints as possible. With my background in youth coaching and my degree in talent development, I would like to add my personal philosophy of focusing on domestic youth signings to develop in the first-team proceedings.

“As a side-note, I also want this club to be operating in the top-half of the top-flight within five years and even be looking at European qualification.”

Michael Donovan: The initial contract that we will be placing you on will only be until the end of the ongoing season, so a six-month contract. Do you think that you will be able to hit the ground running to be able to earn that extension that you quite obviously would require?”

Conor McDonald: Absolutely, I feel like the tools I would have at my disposal on entering the position would be more than adequate to achieve the club’s and my own personal goals. From there, I want to rejig the club to suit my own philosophy and then I believe that is when I would have the framework to be able to really carve out a legacy here.

Michael Donovan: I did notice that you have ongoing applications elsewhere - mainly in Ireland, Northern Ireland and Wales. Would this be your number one target if you received offers from elsewhere?

Conor McDonald: Absolutely. So much so that I will remove myself from the running of the other roles this moment if requested to. This club has everything I would like in a starting position in management - a challenge. It would be completely fair to say in my opinion that Cobh haven’t really made much of a dent on the Premier League in its history. I want to change that with my philosophy - not to discredit former managers, it would mean a lot to me on a personal level and also to the club in a competitive manner.

Michael Donovan: And working for a club that has limited resources? How do you think you would cope with that?

Conor McDonald: Funnily enough that is something that I related to heavily in my final dissertation! I looked at how smaller clubs that don’t have much income other than gate receipts, season tickets and prize money can manage to stay afloat. It’s something that I have looked into in-depth previously and something that I could deal with perfectly well.

Michael Donovan: For yourself, would there be any requests dependent on you taking up the role?

Conor McDonald: I thought about this on my way over. No, just leading this club would be an honour enough to take the role, thank you.

Michael Donovan: Well Conor, thank you for coming over to us for this, it’s very much appreciated. As you can imagine, we have other candidates to interview so we will be in contact as soon as we come to a decision - one tip for you in the coming days, though: don’t look at the bookies odds!
Loving the Irish connection here from an Irishman myself, who doesn't live too far away from Cobh itself(couple hour drive) , the club that one of my footballing idols Roy Keane started out at. Hopefully Conor McDonald can find the same joy in the future if he gets the coveted job as I did reading the update. Fantastic attention to detail. Great start mate! ;)
Interviewer missed one important question - can his cousin Ronald hook them up with free Happy Meals?
Good luck with the new story. Wonder if you manage to find anyone quite like Jacobs here ;)
Good to have you back with a fresh story and as always, a great post.


Sat on the packed rush hour train from Birkenhead back to Liverpool Lime Street, Conor’s phone began to buzz in his pocket. The sights of built up estates along the tracks made him depressed and desperate for a reason to get home. The good news was that Conor now had a month off from work with the preseason schedule and arrangements all sorted at Tranmere and the English season finished, he could enjoy the June and July sunshine in peace - possibly even book a holiday somewhere.

Reaching for his phone in his tracksuit bottoms, he looked over the notifications on his lock screen: one message from his flatmate Paul asking if Conor could bring home some potatoes with him, another from his mum asking when she will next see him along with a GIF of a cat that would be mildly amusing for anyone who had just found out how to access GIFs, but nobody else. The most recent notification was of a missed call which was the reason why his phone had just been buzzing. He didn’t recognise the area code of the number - it didn’t start with an 07 or 0151 as if it had come through from a UK-based mobile or a Merseyside landline.

Looking on Google, he searched the number but all it linked him up to was a website of where the call was likely to have come from, based on the number’s area code. The website attached the 021 beginning of the number to Cork, Ireland and more precisely, Cobh - the town where Conor had just interviewed for the Cobh Ramblers Football Club managerial position.

With ten minutes until the train arrived into Liverpool Lime Street and another fifteen minutes before he could get home amongst the rush hour traffic, Conor felt that it would be best for a return call in the comfort of his own flat, without the background noise of train conductors or beeping cars.

“Evening Paul,” Conor said, closing the door and shouting to his flatmate who worked as a paralegal in the city. “Just got to make a call if you can keep it down for a few minutes, mate!”

Conor flicked onto his phone and from there to his missed calls, pressing on the assumed Cobh-based number.

“Good evening, you’re through to Michael O’Donovan’s office at Cobh Ramblers, how may I take your call?” said the friendly sounding woman over the phone.

“Hi, I’m just returning a call from this number that I received about a half-hour ago. It’s Conor McDonald calling.” Conor said.

“Putting you through.” She responded, almost automatically like a pre-programmed robot.

“Hello, is this Conor?” Said a familiar Irish accent over the phone.

Conor was almost unsure about how he felt the interviews with Cobh had gone after he had gone to Ireland to take part in the appointment process so he was in two minds over what he was going to be expecting. It did seem like it was a little longer wait to get back to him than was stated or that it was comparable to other clubs, which still didn’t set what mindset Conor should go into this call with.

“Good evening Michael, how are you?” Conor said, taking a deep breath as he awaited Cobh’s verdict with bated breath, wanting to cut straight to the important topic of if he had or hadn’t got the job, but clearly had to go through phone call courtesy.

“I’m very well, Conor,” there was a slight pause which unnerved Conor for a split second. “And so should you be. This past week we’ve been batting off other candidates left, right and centre, you really impressed us. We want to offer you the job here at Cobh.”

A sea of relief and elation flowed through Conor’s gut, all the way to make Conor gasp so much that he was lost for words. “Well, thank you,” he said as he tried to find the right words to say without seeming like he was caught out of his depth. “I mean, I’ve done some working out in terms of logistics before the interview in case this happened. When do you want to get moving on this process? I’m absolutely delighted to hear that if you can’t already tell!”

Michael O’Donovan chuckled to himself. “You sound it! We’d like to get the ball rolling immediately if you can. About accommodation and the sort, the club owns a place locally - new signings and other arrivals always stay there to help the settling in process if they come in from afar and don’t know the area, but yes! We’d love to get you over as soon as possible.

“Congratulations, Conor McDonald - new leader of Cobh Ramblers.”

Eoin: I'm glad you can somewhat relate to it on a locality basis! It certainly sounds like Conor shares your joy :P
Justice: Conor will be get the Happy Meals in now - although he did have to pay :/
Seb: I'd be very, very lucky to find a player like Jacobs again ;)
Scott: Thank you mate! Good to be back on the forum!
So it begins, how long until Cobh are European Champions...
"Along with a GIF of a cat that would be mildly amusing for anyone who had just found out how to access GIFs, but nobody else."

I absolutely lost it at this haha, great start to this as expected Jack, always love your stories!
Cat Gifs are my favourite GIFs and I've been using them for almost a decade I'd say :)) Great start to the story, you had me glued to it. Hopefully Conor McDonald can make a good first impression when he arrives at Cobh!
And representing the fighting Irish, in the blue corner, it is THE NOTORIOUS CONOR MCDONAAAAAAAAAAALD
So it begins! A modest club for an obviously modest man from what I can gather so far. A perfect fit.

“Good afternoon Sarah, great to see you!” Conor said as he opened the front door to the local sports journalist Sarah Kelly from the East Cork Journal and the newspaper’s photographer. Cobh’s chairman and owner Michael O’Donovan was also present at the club-owned home which Conor was currently residing in to oversee the club’s new manager’s introduction.

“Certainly, I hope you’re settling in well over here - have you ever been to Ireland before now, more specifically Cork?” She asked off-the-record as Conor re-entered the living room with two glasses of water for Sarah and the photographer.

“My family all came from Ireland and Northern Ireland, my mum from County Antrim and my dad from Waterford originally. They moved over to Liverpool which was where I was born but I’m always going back-and-forth for family events and whatnot,” Conor smiled as he took a seat opposite to Sarah.

“Fantastic,” Sarah said dismissively, looking down at her notepad and leaving a brief silence before looking up again with a friendly smile. “Well, we might as well crack on! I wouldn’t want to take too much of your day, I imagine everything might be a bit hectic at the moment!

“So Conor: How does it feel to take up your first senior management role here at Cobh Ramblers?” She asked, completely changing her tone from the friendliness prior to the questions over to a more pressing manner of speaking which made Conor slightly uneased.

The only times that Conor had ever had an interview where his track record had been under scrutiny was at his previous job roles but even that was an interview conducted by an employer. He had received no media training as such before and especially not any where he would be held to account.

“It’s amazing. It’s a huge personal achievement for me, I’ve worked incredibly hard to establish myself so far in coaching roles at Burnley and Tranmere in England and I have worked with some of the best footballing minds in the game in those roles which in turn has provided me with some great philosophies and ideas when going into a role like this.” Conor said, not remembering a word he had just said and hoping that it was inoffensive.

Sarah was scribbling down notes furiously on her notepad before looking up again. “What do you think that you can bring to this role?”

“My main focus and experience has been based around the coaching and developmental side of the training pitch, bearing in mind all of my previous roles have been with youth teams and reserve teams in coaching roles which I was appointed to off the back of my football-based education in football business and talent development as well as my coaching qualifications from the English Football Association.”

“Do you think that you are qualified for this position, bearing in mind that you are only 21 years old and have no previous experience either playing the game professionally or semi-professionally or even in a senior or junior management role?” Sarah asked, leaning forward and pushing her question right into Conor’s face.

Conor looked past Sarah’s glare to the concerned look on Michael O’Donovan’s face. “I’m sure that there are many people with varying degrees of experience in management that may have been available to the chairman. I don’t believe that this is a question for me, but more for the people who appointed me off the back of the interview process.”

Sarah turned around to face Michael O’Donovan who sat up as she looked at him. “What do you think, Michael? How is Conor McDonald qualified enough to take this club up a notch bearing in mind he has no experience in management and no playing career?”

Conor sat back, almost offended at the line of questioning even though Conor himself knew that he was vastly underqualified but he awaited to see how his boss would respond to this, bearing in mind he has hired and fired managers before and has had to give an explanation for these decisions to the press.

Michael stuttered slightly before giving his answer. “Sarah, I think you as a sports writer know that you don’t need to have a history in the game - either playing professionally or managing - to be a successful manager. Of course, it might be preferable to go down that route but I have seen far too many stony-faced old men come through that door looking for jobs and have even had jobs here and they have failed! I think it is a great thing to have a fresh, young, bright face. He fired me up in the interview so much that I appointed him, I have no doubt that he can spread that feeling to the playing squad.”

“So there is a method here? You haven’t just gone for a cheap option to last you until the season ends?” Sarah sniped back, still facing O’Donovan.

“I think that is a very, very presumptuous and actually offensive thing to say that mocks the integrity of me, Conor and the club and I think that deserves an apology. When you first became a journalist, what did you have? Obviously apart from an awful resumé that says you went to university before it was cool with a pointless degree in media studies to chase a mediocre career in regional news reporting.” O’Donovan said, firing Sarah’s bullets straight back, whilst also deviating very much from the story here.

“You’re picking on a young lad who has certainly achieved more by the age of 21 than you ever did and I know that because I’ve known you a while. I think it’s time we terminate this interview if you are just going to go for ‘gotcha’ questions as you have been,” O’Donovan stood up and looked down at Sarah. “Take your picture and leave, please. We’ll get another reporter in and you won’t get another story from us again, we’ll go to Cobh Edition next time for exclusives. Consider yourself redundant to Cobh Ramblers, thanks.”

Michael O’Donovan held the door open for Sarah and the photographer as Conor sat back, stunned at how quickly events had turned.

“Don’t worry, mate,” Michael said with a big grin on his face. “They’re not all going to be like that.”

Seb: It will take as long as it takes... ;)
Griffo: You can sense that there is a sense of authorial annoyance in that quote ;)
Eoin: Well you're the kind of person that Conor would be having a problem with :P
Justice: In this update, it was certainly Mr Chairman who came out fighting for The Notorious McDonald.
Scott: For now, as we know personalities of people and even clubs can change with time.
Michael O'Donovan really stamped down his superior authority to back up a bewildered Conor. He was right too though, as Sarah was really picking on the young Conor and trying to catch him out. Terrible journalism always deserves all karma it receives, as its something that genuinely pisses me off irl. Wonder how Conor will process this quite traumatic experience with the media.
That's Sarah put in her place.
Haha some young go getter journalist shooting from the hip.. shock me #donttrustthemedia

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