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Conor McDonald: The Student

Started on 18 April 2020 by Jack
Latest Reply on 10 August 2022 by JodydollIver63
A lot of good signings in that transfer window and they seem to be paying off already with sitting top of the table after 5 games. Hopefully this should mean you'll be avoiding the relegation battle.
Lots of names I recognise. I always love when that happens ;) Gestede in his final year is an absolute coup when you consider his wage, too. Dolan and O'Brian are fantastic additions as well. Expect a few wondergoals from Dolan.

What a start to the season this has been though. It just highlights what a great window it has been for Cobh. The squad has gelled fantastically.
Just as I expected, you're doing brilliantly! I'm guessing you'll have to keep a keen eye on your finances this season, but then again... a good cup run and a European place would solve all that ;) You can do it! Keep up the good work man, I'm sure Keane would swim to Ireland himself if it means he gets out of Watford...
What a window that was! Rudy Gestede a brilliant "little" signing for Cobh, doesn't get much better than that in the LOI!
Forget Scott knowing some of your players, that's nothing unexpected. I know a few of them, that shows how big of a window you had. Gestede is a massive signing and Powell is a player I will take great interest in seeing. Things are certainly going well so far to be sat 2nd but it'll take a lot to still be in those places come the end of the season. Good luck.
Gestede's chant better be to the tune of Ruby by the Kaiser Chiefs (RUDY, RUDY, RUDY, RUDYYYY)
Settled to life in the top flight very well. Sami and Said been doing bits in the south coast. Europe on the horizon?!?

Cobh Ramblers boss Conor McDonald has signed a contract extension that will keep him at the club until 2023.

McDonald originally signed a one-year deal when he succeeded Stephen Henderson in June 2019 before signing a new two-year deal until the end of the current 2022 season following promotion from the First Division last year.

However, the 24-year-old has been rewarded for guiding Cobh to the title and the Ford Cup Final last season.

Coaches Barry O’Sullivan, Gary Manning, Brian Barrett and Shane O’Driscoll have also been given new two-year contracts.

Chief scout Alan McDermott was the only member of staff not offered a contract to keep him at the club past 2022.

Chairman Michael O’Donovan said Cobh Ramblers want continuity to match Irish champions Dundalk’s philosophy of keeping hold of Vinny Perth.

"If you look at clubs like Dundalk, Vinny Perth has shown that stability gives you the best platform to achieve success and that is the model we wish to emulate here," he commented.

"We're looking to build on the success we had last season and these new contracts are aimed at keeping the club progressing on and off the pitch, as we have done since Conor McDonald arrived at the club."

Former Burnley and Tranmere Rovers youth coach McDonald was named the manager of the 2020 and 2021 seasons by the Airtricity First Division.

Cobh, who had finished 1st the previous season but been expected to struggle in their first season in the Premier League, have won 9 of their 19 league games, scoring 51 goals so far.

O’Donovan added: "Conor has done a fantastic job over the last couple of years and is now proving what a great Premier League manager he is.

"I have total respect for him in all football matters and have an excellent relationship with him, which I think benefits the club enormously.

"Conor also has one of the best backroom teams in the country and I would like to thank Barry O’Sullivan, Gary Manning, Brian Barrett and Shane O’Driscoll for all their combined efforts."

After finishing university in 2019 and after spells with Burnley and Tranmere Rovers’ youth teams, he took over at Cobh in June 2019.

tedbro20: It certainly looks like relegation won’t be too threatening this season!
Scott: Knew you would have knowledge of a few ;) Dolan’s picked up a couple already but I am still waiting on a thunderbastard :))
James: Doubling the wage bill (which was offered by the board) is something we have to take care of otherwise it’s just reckless spending. European football would be absolutely fantastic but we’ll have to wait and see. As for Keane, maybe it’s a few years in the pipeline yet…
Eoin: He must be up there in reputation with some of the best in the league, that’s for sure!
Seb: That’s some going! :)) I knew there would be some affiliation between you and Powell due to the Northampton connection. 2nd place would be a superb finish for our debut season, that goes without saying!
Griffo: I think you’ve just created one for the terraces!
Justice: The strike partnership has excluded Gestede to the bench which took me by surprise, but if they’re both on form why not play them?
Very deserved contract extension that!
Very nice to see you're staying, making the Ramblers having a glory period

Throughout April, Cobh Ramblers dropped down to 2nd place mainly down to the games in hand that teams below them had on McDonald’s team through March.

The month began with a derby match against Cork City at Turners Cross in front of more than 4,600 fans. Despite an early Georgie Kelly penalty to put Cork ahead, Matt Dolan was able to equalise with 15 minutes left until full-time.

Cobh made their entrance into the EA Sports Cup with a First Round fixture against Waterford thanks to two early goals from Rafiki Said and Dan Powell. Cobh went 3-0 up thanks to Alex Samizadeh and although Waterford grabbed two goals back, McDonald’s side still went through to the next round.

Sligo Rovers were also put to the sword by an Alex Samizadeh hat-trick at St. Colman’s Park.

St. Patrick’s Athletic and Waterford did find their way past Cobh Ramblers with two consecutive 3-1 defeats for The Rams, knocking their league position down considerably.

Cobh Ramblers returned from their two losses in the EA Sports Cup Second Round with vengeance as they went on to hit seven goals past their rivals Cork City with two braces from Rudy Gestede and Stefan Takac leading them to the Quarter-Finals.

However, Cobh faced their third consecutive league defeat against struggling Shamrock Rovers as they ended the game with nine men due to Mark O’Brien and Danny Lupano being shown their marching orders and losing 5-3.

Another big cup win was on the horizon with an 8-0 win over Arklow Town in the Munster Senior Cup Semi-Final as Alex Samizadeh scored a 17-minute hat-trick, meaning Cobh will face Cork City in the Final in June.

Cobh finished the month brightly against the reigning champions Dundalk in a 3-2 win as Jamie O’Hara, Alex Samizadeh and Rafiki Said all led the scoring.

May was a lot less busier in terms of fixtures compared to April’s nine fixtures.

This began with an EA Sports Cup Quarter-Final tie against their old First Division opponents Wexford but they only just squeezed through to the Semi-Finals thanks to a Rafiki Said brace, meaning they will face Dundalk in the Semi-Finals in August.

Similar to April, Cobh then lost two league games on the bounce despite Alex Samizadeh doing his best in both games, scoring three goals but Bohemian and St. Patrick’s Athletic overpowered them.

Conor McDonald steered his team back in the right direction with a win against relegation favourites University College Dublin. Dan Powell and Reis Peggie scored two quickfire goals in the same minute, cancelling out The Students’ two-goal lead. It was Rafiki Said who was the hero this time as he scored a late winner in the 89th minute. Mark O’Brien was sent off in the 94th minute but that did not affect the result as it was too late to make much difference.

Cobh finished off the month with a stunning 7-2 victory over league leaders Derry City as Cobh had six different scorers with all four of their midfield getting a goal in what McDonald called a superb return to form.

After losing five games between April and May, Cobh’s position in the league deteriorated to one of the lowest it has been all season. However, with the results at the end of May it may seem like Cobh could be back on track.

Cobh’s two strikers Alex Samizadeh and Rafiki Said lead the scoring charts with 18 goals and 11 goals respectively. Alex Samizadeh has been particularly impressive since arriving from Radcliffe, scoring 18 goals in 18 appearances, calculating a goal every 87 minutes.

Zed: I am inclined to agree there ;)
Wolf: Hopefully with the club’s first ever Premier League title soon!
A bit of a trend is going on. A poor start is rescued by a resurgence at the end of the month. The table is starting to take shape and although the position isn't as eye-watering as it once was, this is still more than expected from Cobh. They have performed very well and the performance in the cup is another highlight of this season.
Conceding a lot of goals atm, but it seems that attacking-wise you've got things under control. If you can tighten things up defensively, I'd back you to chase down Boh's for second tbh. Well deserved contract extension for Conor: Cobh are lucky to have him!

Conor McDonald has progressed on the rebuild of Cobh Ramblers by bringing in four more new faces over the summer transfer window.

However, in contrast to their earlier business, there were more players going out of the door than coming in, with seventeen players going out of the door on both permanent or temporary deals.

The first player coming in was former Liverpool graduate Layton Stewart from Halesowen Town in the National League North in England.

The 19-year-old Scouse striker scored 9 goals in 24 starts in the league under former Newcastle defenders’ Mike Williamson who guided Halesowen Town to survival in the sixth tier with a 20th placed finish.

Stewart finished in two Team of the Week’s during his time in the West Midlands.

He has signed a contract until December 2024 on a weekly wage of €500. He will wear the number nine shirt for the remainder of the 2022 season in Ireland.

Conor McDonald did scour the international youth teams to pick up two Swiss Under-21 players on free transfers. The first through the door was 17-year-old central midfielder Dario de Pellegrin.

De Pellegrin has made four caps for the Switzerland Under-21s and came through the youth teams at his boyhood club FC Hochdorf and has earned a reputation for his free-kick taking during his time in the limelight in his home country.

The second Swiss player to come through the Cobh door was goalkeeper Josef Perrin on a free transfer from his boyhood club FC Chur 97.

The 17-year-old played alongside fellow countryman Dario de Pellegrin for Switzerland Under-21s and has six caps at that level.

Perrin signs a €500 per week contract until December 2024 and will wear the number 14 shirt for the club this season.

McDonald’s fourth and final arrival was Spanish striker Xavier Río who joins the club following his release from European giants Barcelona on a free transfer.

Río played in the Barcelona youth teams for four years after joining aged 12 in 2018 but was released on 1st of July upon the expiry of his youth deal at Camp Nou.

The 16-year-old signs a €120 per week deal until December 2025 and has been given the number 33 shirt for this season at Cobh Ramblers.

Despite the arrivals, Conor McDonald did try to cut down on the club’s bills by sending away a lot of players.

Rudy Gestede did retire at the age of 34 having spent five months with Cobh Ramblers after joining in January on a free transfer from Middlesbrough after an illustrious career including spells in the English Premier League with Aston Villa and Middlesbrough.

Some of 2021s title-winning side were also sent away permanently with Connor Maxwell, Jamie Docherty and Jamie Thornton all leaving with Thornton raking in a €8.5K fee from English Championship side Blackburn Rovers to join their Under-23s side.

The two big moves of the summer both involved Dundalk as they took striker Leon Middleton and Fynn Talley from Cobh for a combined fee of €175K which greatly improved the state of McDonald’s finances with some suspecting Cobh’s new Swiss signing Josef Perrin coming in to replace Talley.

Dundalk also took young English midfielder Lewis Smith in a €5.75K after spending the 2021/22 campaign on loan at National League North’s Curzon Ashton.

Going out on loan were a few of this season’s signings as Tommy Hughes, Neil McGovern, Ahkeem Rose and Harvey Smith all heading out on loan deals. Tom Harrison has also been on a six-month loan spell to First Division side Galway United.

Scott: The boys need a bit of a boost every now and then midway through months, that's what I'm figuring out! The Munster Senior Cup is a great thing to be involved in, even though the prizes are small. The achievement makes the squad happy, that's for sure.
James: The defence is incredibly leaky but I'm sure that's more of a compliment to other teams' attacks as much as ours is a great attack. I would say the same about the new deal :P
You've taken Dundalk to the cleaners :O Just short of €181k!! Río and de Pellegrin look like quality youngsters, and they could both be worth a hell of a lot of money in future years. Great work finding them, hopefully it'll see more positive results headed Cobh's way.

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