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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
Wow this is very hard blow. You have some thoughts how you're gonna be able to keep the team together?

“I get it, Michael,” Conor said, picking up another handful of his personal things and putting them in the cardboard box on his desk. “It’s just I can’t see myself doing another run at it.”

“Conor, you’re not thinking about this properly,” Michael said, pretty much chasing Conor around the room as he was packing up his things. “Tell you what, €350 a week, I pay for your rent in the first year and you get 80% of any compensation if someone comes in for you in the meantime.”

Conor stopped packing up. “So that’s your offer?” he asked, raising his eyebrows at O’Donovan.

As a former salesman, Michael O’Donovan knew that Conor’s pause in movement and speech was a cue for him to push harder on the product he was selling. “Think about it,” he said, grabbing Conor’s forearm. “Two years, security in your job for two years! The opportunity to build this club from the ground as you have done for a year and six months already!”

“Michael, the thing is: I’ve got into a few bad habits while I’ve been here. Essentially I am addicted gambling. Obviously not on football games, just casino games and poker.” Conor said, feeling a huge weight lifting from him as he finally told somebody.

“I understand,” Michael said, looking down and stroking his beard, thinking of the right words to say. “We can get you help if you want it and want it to be done here. Now I know that I would be able to handle the situation a lot better with regular support, I want to give you an opportunity to dig yourself out of this hole.”

Conor let out a sigh of relief as he smiled for the first time it felt like in months. “You’re a great man to work under,”

“With,” Michael said, butting into Conor’s sentence. “You don’t work ‘under’ me, you work ‘with’ me. I just pay your wages, that’s all the difference is.”

“Right,” Conor said, smiling again at what O’Donovan said. “Well you have to appreciate that I need a little more time to think about this because committing two more years of my twenties is a big decision, but I do love this club and I love working here with the lads and yourself.”

Conor began to unpack the things in his cardboard box and lay them all back out on the table.

“Just send over the papers with everything on it, I like making my decisions with the facts in front of me.” Conor said.

tedbro20: We're slowly reaching the conclusion of where Conor ends up for 2021 now!
Justice: A really gutting result for everyone involved at Cobh. There is no acceptance from Conor just yet, only words...
Scott: There were serious lapses in judgement from the boardroom all the way onto the pitch despite a great season, the summer departures taking a lot of the oil out of the machine past June.
Wolf: It will take better contracts, that's a given but there needs to be improvement in the playing squad regardless - some of the players that played simply aren't up to scratch for a promotion-chasing sides whereas players used to pressure like O'Hara and Turner can handle it.
Oh dear, that was... devastating. I think losing 4 players to the 1 club was demoralizing for your squad, and that they never properly recovered from it. Hopefully we'll see a boost in budget at Cobh if you remain, so that you can tie down your best players to longer deals and keep the sharks at bay.
Wow you nearly left, thumbs up for staying! Was there already some interesting clubs from outside?
It appears the relationship with Michael was a contributing factor to Conor seemingly adding another two years to his contract. The fact Conor felt able to directly admit his problems to his boss shows the mutual trust and respect is there amongst the two of them.

Perhaps remaining in Ireland and looking to win promotion could prove to be rewarding in the long-run.
A real shame to go so far and fall at the final. However, with it looking almost certain that Conor will be staying at Cobh he can hopefully get that promotion this season. With Michael proving Conor some help for his addiction that will also help Conor both personally and professionally.

McDonald agrees contract extension

We are delighted to announce that Conor McDonald has signed an extension to his contract, committing his future to the Club as Manager until 2022.

First Team Coaching staff have been brought in including new assistant manager Barry O’Sullivan to replace Stuart Ashton.

Conor joined us from his Under-23 role at Tranmere Rovers in June 2019 and guided us to a third place finish in the Airtricity First Division and a League Cup title in his first full season in charge of The Rams.

Known across Ireland as one of the brightest new coaches for his high pressing attacking style of play, the UCFB graduate has built a reputation for developing young domestic players during his previous youth work at Burnley and Tranmere.

He has continued in that vein at St. Colman’s Park, assembling a squad with the youngest average age in the First Division which led Cobh Ramblers to the top in the league table for the majority of the 2020 season.

Michael O’Donovan, Club Chairman, said: "We have seen Conor bring a tremendous spirit and ethos to our Club and embrace the attacking style of play with the team he assembled. He has built a squad of youth and experience and last season we saw football played at the highest level - quite sublime at times. Everyone at the Club is delighted he has agreed an extended contract and we all look forward to working with him in the coming seasons. I know he is as ambitious for our Club as we all are."

Conor said: "I could not be happier to sign this new contract. It was an easy decision for my coaching staff and I because we can feel the appreciation of everyone here - there is no better place to be right now.

"The supporters are unbelievable, we have assembled a great group of players with huge potential that can get even better, while the facilities we have to work in are fantastic for the level we are playing at.

“We enjoyed a great season last time and we believe this is just the beginning. We have a long-term project and huge belief that we can achieve something big here for the future.

"This club has all the ingredients to continue to challenge at the very top in both the Premier League and later in Europe and we want to be here to be a part of what I believe will be a special period in the Club's history.”

The Club’s retained list will be revealed in the next few days.

James: Those players leaving took away squad depth and quality as well as causing a drop in morale across the club extending beyond the players. I'm awaiting to see how I can handle the budget given to me but it will have to be well-distributed across every section of the team.
Wolf: Indeed, staying on! There were a few clubs from the lower leagues of England and Wales but nothing much beyond that. Cobh wasn't the best offer but it also wasn't the worst especially considering I have spent my career to date here already!
Scott: Michael has been very supportive to Conor on a personal level, a good guy to work with at the club. Promotion would open up more opportunities for Conor, both at Cobh and if he was to look elsewhere for a role!
Seb: We made our own bed by bottling the title at the last hurdle, no doubt about that. At least there is the comfort for Conor that he no longer has to reach instant success and he has time to build Cobh how he wants over these next two years.
Yes, sometimes it's better to stay than leaving for a little better club. I wonder what the financial part will be for your next season, you've got some interest in players in your league ? And how the reputation will change after this season.
A sensible decision for all involved. The level of trust that Michael has in Conor is pleasing. There hasn't been much turmoil to really rock the boat as such and potentially strain this relationship, but regardless it's still reassuring to see this in a business where it's very easy to act hastily these days.
Good to see Conor staying at the club a bit longer and hopefully he can face his demons with his owners backing
Massive news! The cork has been put back in the bottle over the rumours of him leaving! Now, trophy time.

Cobh Ramblers’ 2021 preparation is almost done as they played out their final preseason friendly against their senior affiliate Shamrock Rovers on Friday evening.

Starting with a 2-1 loss at the hands of Dundalk who won their third consecutive Irish Premier League title last season, Conor McDonald’s side went unbeaten for the remainder of their preseason.

Cian Leonard and new signing Callum Jones both scored in their next fixture at home against provincial rivals Cork City in a 2-1 win at St. Colman’s Park.

Attacking midfielder Remi Thompson also secured a draw against the third consecutive Premier League outfit with a marvellous effort from 25 yards out in a 1-1 draw.

Two 4-1 wins followed against lower division sides Midleton and Clonmell Town with new left-midfielder Will McGowan netting a hat-trick against Midleton. Eoin Porter got off to a scoring start with a brace against Clonmell Town.

It was Callum Jones who scored the decisive goal against Shamrock Rovers who have been less than helpful to their affiliate club in comparison to last season, only continuing one loan spell compared to last season's five players switching Tallaght Stadium for East Cork.

In terms of new faces, Cobh Ramblers fans were treated to another busy transfer window with McDonald, signing 16 new players ahead of the new season.

Fans were most happy with the arrival of centre-back Tom Harrison, signed on a free transfer following the expiration of his contract at English Championship outfit Bristol City.

Cobh Ramblers were unfortunately beaten to the signing of former Leeds United youth graduate Joshveer Shergill by English League One side Peterborough United however, the left-back still arrived in the Republic of Ireland as a Cobh player albeit on a season-long loan. The two clubs agreed that Peterborough will pay all 100% of his €190 per week wage at Weston Homes Stadium.

Huddersfield Town graduate Remi Thompson also made the move across the Irish Sea to join Conor McDonald’s side on a one-year deal at €130 per week and he looks set to become a vital part of the manager’s starting eleven for the upcoming campaign.

Conor McDonald had to make some adjustments to his front line following some big departures in 2020 including both Cameron Moore and Adam Williams to Shelbourne and Danila Bogdanov returning to Shamrock Rovers and not accepting a loan extension. As a result, McDonald once again looked over to England to find replacements and signed young duo Harry Warwick and Callum Jones from Truro City and Colchester United respectively.

Other Signings:

With the transfer business seemingly all done and dusted for Cobh Ramblers until the summer, Conor McDonald announced his squad number for the 2021 campaign.

17-year-old Alan O’Sullivan’s contract was renewed for the new season and he keeps the number one jersey ahead of back-up keeper Adam Mylod who stays with the number 25.

Club captain Jamie O’Hara’s hefty weekly wage was renewed for the new season with Conor McDonald deeming his dressing room and on-the-pitch influence too important to lose and he keeps his number four shirt as does the other experienced midfielder Ian Turner who remains number seven.

New strikers Harry Warwick and Callum Jones take the number eight and nine shirts previously held by Cian Leonard (who will wear number 29) and Cameron Moore who has left for Shelbourne.

Remi Thompson also takes the number ten from Eoin Porter who moves to number 16.

Six of Cobh’s Under-19 players have received squad number for the 2021 season with Jason Murphy, Liam McCarthy, Gareth McGrath, Andy Byrne, Tom O’Brien and Mark Lawrence all taking shirts 30-35.

Upcoming Fixtures
Limerick (A) - League
Galway United (H) - Friendly
Avondale United (H) - Munster Senior Cup Quarter-Final
Athlone Town (A) - League

Wolf: Conor has built something already with Cobh, taking them from a mid-table team into a position where promotion is almost expected now. It would've been a shame to just leave it behind.
Scott: The only bad point is the fact we bottled promotion which we deserved and the club's finances (which were never great to begin with). Conor has unfinished business at the moment.
tedbro20: Fighting personal battles is a huge step and sure is something that Conor would have thought about prior to his decision!
Justice: EA Sports Cup is done. Now the league.
The squad looks ready for the new season. I have a feeling that Conor won't be left disappointed come the end of this campaign. I hope not anyway!
Geez that cardboard box was a touch dramatic haha

Also, Harry Warwick is now my favourite player in this story, coming from the might of Truro City! Make him a legend Conor

The new 2021 Irish season got off to a fantastic start for Conor McDonald’s new-look Cobh Ramblers as they top the table with two wins out of two and a cup semi-final to look forward to.

With two friendlies against St. Patrick’s Athletic and Shamrock Rovers to begin the month, the new First Division season began at Limerick’s Markets Field on Friday the 12th. Cobh have never lost a game against Limerick during McDonald’s tenure and that feat continued with a 3-2 win.

Eoin Porter got Cobh off the mark with scoring for the season only 12 minutes into the game to put his team 1-0 up. This was cancelled out by Greg Calderon before Cobh’s new striker Callum Jones put his new club back in the lead just before half-time.

Last season’s fifth top scorer Cian Murphy then brought the game level for the second time of the match. It was then down to centre-back Gordon Walker with only his second-ever goal for Cobh to win the match with a late header in the 85th minute to give his side the perfect opening day.

A friendly against divisional rivals Galway United followed the next Friday in a scoreless draw with a few of Cobh’s Under-19s getting a feature among the first-team squad.

Cobh’s first game in a cup competition since their historic EA Sports Cup Final victory against Bohemian took place in the regional Senior Munster Cup Quarter-Final against lower league opposition in Avondale United.

New promising striker Harry Warwick scored his first competitive goal for his new team since joining on a free transfer from English non-league side Truro City. He went on to score a brace alongside fellow new arrival Jordan O’Brien, brought in from Sheffield Wednesday’s academy.

Will McGowan and Cian Leonard also got on the scoresheet as Alan O’Sullivan kept Avondale’s few chances out to record a superb 6-0 win before Cobh’s return to league action.

Athlone Town were Cobh’s final opponents in February, taking place at Athlone Town Stadium. After a 6-0 win midweek, Conor McDonald’s goal-happy team weren’t done there with another fantastic 5-1 win in the league.

Harry Warwick began to really prove his worth as he forced himself to the top of the league’s goalscoring charts with a hat-trick in only his second league start of the campaign.

Jordan O’Brien and Eoin Porter scored the other two goals in this fixture as Athlone Town’s Rhys Gorman could only score a consolation goal from the penalty spot after a foul by Tom Harrison.

This month’s action places Cobh Ramblers at the top of the First Division - a position they occupied for a large proportion of last season before collapsing in October. They will be hoping for nothing like that again this time around as the relegated Bray Wanderers sit in 2nd on goal difference due to Cobh’s destruction of Athlone Town.

Galway United, Limerick and Wexford make up the rest of the top-half as Finn Harps look like a team prepared for another season in the second tier after being relegated from the Premier League in 2019.

However, a big surprise so far is that the relegated Shelbourne - who have taken five of Cobh Rambler’s players in the past 8 months, much to McDonald’s annoyance - are sat in 8th place with no games in hand on teams around them. An opening day loss to Bray Wanderers followed by a draw against Cabinteely is the reason for this as they look to put things right against Cobh in what will no doubt be a hotly contested match at St. Colman’s Park in their next game.

Upcoming Fixtures:
Shelbourne (H) - League
Bray Wanderers (H) - League
Cabinteely (A) - League
Wexford (H) - League
Longford Town (H) - League

Scott: They look ready and they have been ready! A super start to the season.
Griffo: Your man Warwick is setting the league alight already ;)

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