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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
No bottling this lead now, surely!?! With just the two home league games coming up, you can focus on the cup quarter final - although it will be an almighty long bus trip north for your team.
Hope you can take that cup with it too, nice lead!
PS: It's a lot better now with the colour (maybe only with me haha), but the latest story was again in that green, weird that it's only with me

Cobh Ramblers left their fans questioning themselves on a trip to Letterkenny after going a goal down but they made their way to the Ford Cup Semi-Final with a 3-2 win over the Ulster Senior League outfit.

Letterkenny Rovers’ left-midfielder BJ Banda was on fire against the First Division league leaders, causing trouble for Conor McDonald’s misfit back line every time his side went forward.

He stunned even his own fans as he coolly powered a shot in between the flailing arms of goalkeeper Fynn Talley after a well-weighted ball through the gap of the two Cobh central defenders.

With the remaining three First Division sides in the competition all up against top-flight opposition in the Quarter-Final stage, a game against Letterkenny Rovers would have seemed a luxury for most teams left in the Ford Cup.

However, Rovers showed their inexperience just after their goal as Matt Harkin - the man who assisted the opener - was sent off for a second bookable offence on right-midfielder Jordan O’Brien just before the half-time whistle.

The red card fired up Cobh Ramblers after the second half whistle went and within five minutes Callum Jones fired a ball forward to his new strike partner Khavarn Williams who muscled off Ciaran Kelly and stuck the ball past Rory Kelly’s near post for the equaliser.

The one-man advantage and Cobh Ramblers’ superior fitness really began to show in Letterkenny’s challenges, leading to a penalty in the 64th minute thanks to Jonathan Roulston bringing down Will McGowan.

Club captain Jamie O’Hara was not going to miss an opportunity to keep his 100% record from the spot this season as he powered the ball into the bottom-left corner as Rory Kelly was rooted to his spot.

With Cobh leading comfortably on statistics and the flow of the game in their favour, the nail in the coffin was a third goal.

A long throw attempted by makeshift right-back Charlie Fleming found its way to Khavarn Williams’ feet. The English striker - playing as a right-winger to cover for Jordan O’Brien - fired a ball in low towards Harry Warwick. Darren Magee attempted a clearance which bounced straight off Remi Thompson’s back to land perfectly at the feet of Warwick who gobbled up the chance from inside the six-yard box to make it 3-1.

With Jamie Thornton really struggling in his unfamiliar position at right-back, Paul McVeigh caught him napping before playing a ball across to the impressive winger BJ Banda who attempted an ambitious effort from 25 yards out and scored a fantastic goal in the 91st minute.

Despite only being a goal behind, the finish was ultimately worthless as the match ended three minutes later but BJ Banda deservedly received the Man of the Match award after the game.

With all Ford Cup Quarter-Finals completed that day, the Semi-Final draw was made not too long after.

8th placed Premier League side Bohemian are now to take on Cobh Ramblers at their home stadium of Dalymount Park meanwhile First Division strugglers Finn Harps will take on Cobh’s provincial rivals Cork City on the 3rd October.

Seb: Indeed, the league almost just seems like a formality to iron out at this point. The Ford Cup is superb to be involved in, given that it pays out the same amount for simply getting past the First Round than it does for winning the entire EA Sports Cup!
tedbro20: Those wins were crucial in the cup and I guess that allowed us to have an easy draw against Letterkenny in the later rounds as shown here.
Justice: Solid as a rock it seems in the league! Regardless of the journey, it was made worthwhile in the Quarters :D
Wolf: The treble would be an incredible achievement for a First Division side. I'll try sort out the colours again if they're bothering again. Cheers!
You're defen a bit closer with that new result, congrats, up to the final! Haha hope that I don't annoy you with the colour part mate, thanks!
A good win and Jamie O'hara has certainly seems to be playing well and his experience will be helping a lot as well.
Perhaps tougher than it needed to be but at least the job was done in the end. Hopefully McDonald can mastermind his way past Bohemians and another top-flight side.

As the penultimate month of the Irish First Division season comes to a close, it is all but confirmed that Cobh Ramblers have won the First Division as they only need one point out of their last three games to be made champions.

The first game of September was a friendly against Cobh’s Ford Cup First Round opponents Dundalk from the previous month. Like Cobh, Dundalk are on the brink of winning the Irish Premier League for the fourth consecutive season. Daniel Kelly scored the only goal of the game to win the friendly 1-0.

This was followed by a return to league action the following Thursday against 9th placed Wexford and it’s certainly fair to say that The Rams dominated them as they ran out as 6-0 winners.

Jamie O’Hara was on form as he scored two superb free-kicks from the edge of the box to take his league goal tally up to nine goals. He would go on to win the Man of the Match award. Striker Callum Jones and left-midfielder Will McGowan also scored braces as Wexford only managed to make one shot in the whole game.

Cobh entered the Ford Cup again in the Quarter-Finals against Ulster Senior League side Letterkenny Rovers. They managed to progress even further down to a 3-2 win.

Eventual Man of the Match winner BJ Banda netted first and last as he put doubt into the minds of Cobh’s players and fans alike. However, a Khavarn Williams breakaway goal and a Jamie O’Hara penalty removed those doubts as they led 2-1 just after the hour. Harry Warwick essentially secured the win with a goal in the final five minutes before a screamer from Banda that only turned out to be a consolation.

Cobh then arranged a friendly against St. Mary’s Cork which they won 5-1 which included a Will McGowan brace and a goal from youngster Jan Lukac.

Conor McDonald’s team were preparing to take home the First Division title once and for all against Longford Town with a win but they could only muster up a draw with the Play-Off contenders.

Longford’s Swedish youngster Matias Carlsson scored in the first 40 seconds of the game, followed up by Verdon’s goal which doubled their team’s lead. After a furious McDonald was seen shouting from his dugout, Callum Jones brought one back before equalising the game just after the hour mark.

As it stands, Cobh Ramblers are nine points ahead of 2nd place Shelbourne so they only need one point from their next three games against fairly average opponents in Cabinteely, Finn Harps and Galway United.

In the Play-Off run-in, Bray Wanderers have pulled off an incredible comeback and they look set to overtake either Limerick or Longford Town after gaining four points on their previous five-point gap, leaving them only one point behind going into the final month of the league season.

Upcoming Fixtures:
Cobh Wanderers (H) - Friendly
Bohemian (H) - Ford Cup Semi-Final
Cabinteely (A) - League
Finn Harps (A) - League
Galway United (H) - League

Wolf: One last step to the big final! I've changed the colour again, no problem :P
tedbro20: O'Hara has been even more important than I could've imagined, he doesn't even show any sign of deteriorating!
Scott: Banda was quality, I might even look into him as a transfer! We've beaten Bohemian before, no reason why we can't again :P
Title is pretty much confirmed which is good to see. Its a shame that the only league game at home is the final one but guess its a special way to end the season once your crowned champions

Cobh Ramblers finally lifted the Airtricity First Division trophy today after a 4-2 win over Cabinteely.

Summer signing Khavarn Williams scored a hat-trick to polish off what has been a fine season for the Rams under Conor McDonald.

Shelbourne drew against Galway United in the only fixture that could even contest a result at Stradbrook but the party was already underway once Williams’ 86th minute goal hit the back of the net.

The title has been two-and-a-half years in the making for Cobh Ramblers gaffer Conor McDonald.

He joined Cobh in June 2019, midway through the 2019 season as Cobh were managerless following Stephen Henderson’s departure to become Shelbourne’s Head of Youth Development and then First-Team Manager.

Cobh were 6th and simply hoping to avoid finishing bottom of the table was their only aim for what was an aimless club at the time.

The season after, Cobh snapped up a variety of players from their new affiliate Shamrock Rovers as well as the well-known English midfielder Jamie O’Hara following his disastrous spell as manager at Billericay Town.

Arguably Cobh should have won the league in 2020, having been at the top of the table for 70% of the season but they were just pipped to the post by Drogheda United at the last.

This season, they have won comfortably by nine points ahead of their sole title rivals Shelbourne, who were dear enemies after poaching five of their players during their Premier League spell in 2020.

McDonald was seen fondly looking at his title winners medal this evening as he looks back on a perfect start to football management just a month after his 24th birthday in September.

McDonald said: “It’s quite unbelievable how far we have come in such a short space of time.

“It seems like yesterday when I was nervously walking into the boardroom for the interview just after finishing university.

“There were times when I considered staying on, I’ll admit. Particularly after the heartbreak of last season in the Play-Offs.

“The board backed me, they thanked me for the work I had done in that time and they believed in me and rewarded me with another shot and the motivation to get the job done.

“That’s what we’ve done today. We got it done.”

The 2022 campaign will mark Cobh Ramblers’ first season back in the top tier since their relegation in 2008.

However, this isn’t Cobh’s season done - they await a cup final against their dearest rivals Cork City at the national Aviva Stadium at the end of October, presenting an opportunity for a treble-winning season and also a chance to qualify for European football in 2022/23.

For now, the Cobh team will enjoy the moment of winning the First Division title.

tedbro20: A beautiful way to cap off the title it was!
Just caught up with all your updates, what a season you're having! Great to see no bottle job happened this season, it appears that O'Hara just keeps getting better and better. Now we want the cup!
What a way to finish off the season. I can see Conor pawning his medal to cover gambling debts next season
Congratulations to Conor and the squad. A fantastic achievement and a welcome return to the Premiership awaits.

Peter Collins: Good afternoon and welcome to RTÉ 2's coverage of today's FAI Ford Cup Final live at the national Aviva Stadium for the big match-up against two teams that actually do not like each other one bit!

On the one hand we have Cork City who finished eighth in the Premier League this season and they are up against their provincial rivals Cobh Ramblers who were crowned as Irish First Division champions earlier this month.

I have former Cobh Ramblers assistant manager Stuart Ashton who worked under Conor McDonald between 2019 and 2020 as well as Cork City legend Phil Harrington who played in goal for the club between 1989 and 2007.

There is also a lot more at stake today than the trophy - the winner will receive prize money of €67,000 as well as qualification to the Europa Conference League in the 2022/23 campaign.

Today will certainly be an interesting game with Cork City only just managing to keep themselves away from the threat of relegation whereas Cobh Ramblers dominated their league this season, winning the title by eight points over Shelbourne.

Taking a look at the potential goal scorers today, we see that most of Cork’s goals this season have come through 33-year-old Michael Lyall with 10 goals in 37 appearances in all competitions. On the other hand, Cobh have a few potential winners with divisional top scorer Callum Jones netting 23 goals in 30 games. Harry Warwick is also a contender with 19 goals in 30.

Stuart Ashton: Absolutely, I had the pleasure of working alongside Jones and Warwick for a short period of time before I left and you could just tell in training that there was a whole new presence at the club.

Phil Harrington: Indeed, they are two quality goal scorers, simple as and I think that's where O'Dea is lacking in his squad is just attacking firepower up top. Not enough goals have been scored this season and it's as simple as that, hence why they were fighting off relegation for the most part. This final is a blessing in disguise for Cork!

Peter Collins: Conor McDonald’s teams go out there to attack, not to keep possession or defend, it’s a pressing attack method there and it has clearly served his team well. However, Darren O’Dea’s 4-4-1-1 set-up has drawn critics for not being attacking enough. It’ll be interesting to see how the theories play out on the pitch.

Stuart Ashton: I was completely baffled by the change in dynamic when Conor came in. These lads only train two or three times a week in between games because they're a part-time club but Conor sent them home with training schedules for homework almost! He never forced them to get going on it but I noticed a difference in the levels of fitness of the lads.

Last season, we had Cameron Moore who unfortunately left for Shelbourne in January and we sort of built a squad around his prowess in front of goal. I think that's what Conor likes to do is mould a team around an attacking focal point as we see he has done with both Jones, Warwick and even to an extent Williams, even though he arrived in the summer.

Peter Collins: With that, we have today’s lineups as they begin to congregate in the tunnel with around 18,000 fans all crammed into the national stadium today.

Stuart Ashton: Now the one thing that sticks out to me about that lineup is Cobh’s Khavarn Williams over Harry Warwick. Granted, Williams has been superb recently - particularly with that hat-trick against Cabinteely - but Warwick is a more reliable partner to Jones this season. It’s an interesting call that has caught me slightly off-guard.

Phil Harrington: On Cork's side, it's great to see the two young lads on the wings Freeman and McNally, two 17-year-olds, Cork born and bred. It's a bold move by O'Dea considering they haven't much game experience this season but I think that they have the talent to give the Cobh full-backs something to think about.

Peter Collins: We had better head over to our commentary team with the two teams out on the Aviva Stadium field for today's FAI Ford Cup Final! Over to you Eoin Maguire and Pierre Pellegri!

Eoin Maguire: Yeah, you see if you lift the bar like that then you could be talking about a broken wrist. Really scary stuff. I'll tell you about this time I once lifted six midgets curled up in a ball from my ears to my forearms. It was on the-

Pierre Pellegri: Eoin, I really couldn't care any less. Honestly, you're the most mundane person I can think of to spend time up here-Christ, we're live. Hello and welcome to the Aviva Stadium, host for the FAI Ford Cup Final between Cork City and Cobh Ramblers live on RTÉ 2. I'm Pierre Pellegri and I'm joined by-

Eoin Maguire: Hello!

Pierre Pellegri: ...Eoin Maguire. [whispering] I told you to come in when I said your name you dopey sod.

Eoin Maguire: Hello.

Pierre Pellegri: We've got Callum Jones standing at the halfway mark all ready to get us kicked off for what is surely going to be an entertaining encounter.

Eoin Maguire: A bit like your time hanging around primary schools this, itching to get going with a young bunch of lads. Do you still do that?

Pierre Pellegri: The injunction clearly stated that you aren't to talk about that! We're off!

5 minutes...
Pierre Pellegri: We've got a Cork City throw-in quite deep in the Cobh half with Horgan using Freeman as an option. It's played back to Conor McCormack who's right on the edge of the area.

Eoin Maguire: What a ball that is...

Pierre Pellegri: McNally's reached it at the far post...

Maguire & Pellegri: GOAL!!!

Pierre Pellegri: Did you just copy me?

Eoin Maguire: No? I just shouted goal, that's all.

Pierre Pellegri: Just wondering, you've got form for copying other people's words. Anyway! It's five minutes gone here and Cork City's Gerry McNally has put his side ahead in the cup final! 1-0 Cork City!

27 minutes in...
Eoin Maguire: Oooft, little bit of a coming together there right on the edge of the box. This is Jamie O'Hara territory if I've ever seen it.

Pierre Pellegri: Free-kick to Cobh Ramblers right on the edge here. We know O'Hara is not going to turn down an opportunity to shoot from here. He's clipped the crossbar and it's just over! Unlucky from the former Spurs man!

36 minutes in...
Pierre Pellegri: Terrible from McCarthy, he's just punted the ball straight to Cobh's defence there.

Eoin Maguire: Cunted?

Pierre Pellegri: Shut up. Punted. Connor Maxwell's on it now on the left. Here's O'Hara, looking back to his best in a Cobh shirt. Passes it down the line to McGowan.

Eoin Maguire: Now that's a great jink past the right-back.

Pierre Pellegri: It's floated in towards the penalty spot... Callum Jones has got there, keeper's tipped it onto the post... It's in!!! It's hit the post and gone in! Cobh back on level terms here at the Aviva Stadium.

Eoin Maguire: Let's hope they don't bottle it like Leeds United! Haha!

Pierre Pellegri: What? I thought that joke was so old it was out of copyright or something. You're a commentator for God's sake.

47 minutes in...
Eoin Maguire: Almost half-time here, the referee has added on two minutes to the end of the first 45. McGowan's intercepted a Cork pass, heading it to Jones who's in his own half. That's a superb turn by Khavarn Williams who has been quiet this half. Williams gets through on goal but Hurley in bearing in down on him.

Pierre Pellegri: Good stop but a great run from the former Bournemouth man.

48 minutes in...
Pierre Pellegri: And that calls for half-time. We'll be back for the second half in this cup final but for now we head back over to our pundits Peter Collins, Stuart Ashton and Phil Harrington.

Peter Collins: after that we will head back to our commentary team for the second half.

Pierre Pellegri: So I was just pissing myself laughing thinking "yeah right, global pandemic will stop Seb from going to the pub, not in my lifetime!".

Eoin Maguire: He is a pisshead though to be fair! I wonder from time to time if he has got a drinking prob- hang on, the red lights on.

Pierre Pellegri: Welcome back to the Aviva Stadium for the FAI Ford Cup Final between Cork City and Cobh Ramblers. The score is 1-1 with Gerry McNally and Callum Jones on the scoresheet.

90 minutes in...
Pierre Pellegri: Well that's that! We're heading to extra-time today as neither side have managed to find their way past each other as the ninety minutes end 1-1.

Eoin Maguire: We're back for the extra-time restart, the scores are level. Will somebody break the deadlock in the next 30 minutes?

91 minutes in...
Pierre Pellegri: Daire O'Connor has a dangerous free-kick in the second minute of extra-time, he could either cross it in or he can shoot.

Eoin Maguire: His body shape suggests to me that he's shooting.

Pierre Pellegri: Why are you looking at his body shape?

Eoin Maguire: It's just interesting. I'm sure I've seen him in the gym before.

Pierre Pellegri: O'Connor goes for it! Talley makes a save but he can't tip it away from the attacker and Bargary's there!

Eoin Maguire: GOAAAL!!! Cork City take the lead! Bargary has read that perfectly, he's beaten the Cobh defender and it's in! 2-1, advantage Cork!

120 minutes in...
Pierre Pellegri: Cobh will try go forward once more with Josh Benson who has tried to pick out Jones with a cross... It goes over his head and that's the final whistle! Cork City have secured the FAI Ford Cup and European football in the Europa Conference League for the 2022/23 season!

Eoin Maguire: I can't wait to see how easily he manages to lift that trophy...

James: It was a tremendous campaign all the way through full of consistency! O'Hara is in my mind staying for the Premier League.
Eoin: Now you get to commentate on the Final ;)
tedbro20: Unless he has recovered...
Scott: Time to get going on the planning for the top flight!
Could be a blessing in disguise - don't want the trophy cabinet filling up too quickly.

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