The month of June secured Cobh Ramblers’ first piece of silverware for the season as they took home the Munster Senior Cup as only the sixth team to win the cup back-to-back since it’s founding in 1901.
This was achieved in the first match of the month at Turners Cross in front of a 2,666-strong crowd as Cobh took on Cork City in the Final. The 4-0 win that came was routine, with Jamie O’Hara, Alex Samizadeh, Mark O’Brien and Reis Peggie all getting in on the scoresheet for the team’s second win under McDonald.
However, when Cobh faced the same team in the league in the same week, they got a big turnaround performance after the sacking of Darren O’Dea following the Munster Senior Cup Final as a Georgie Kelly brace helped Cork on their way to a 4-1 victory on Cobh’s own patch.
Cobh returned to winning ways immediately the week after with a 3-1 win over mid-table Sligo Rovers as all the goals came in the second half including goals from Said, Samizadeh and Jordan O’Brien.
Cobh contined the restart of a winning run against Waterford in their last fixture of the month as Alex Samizadeh hit home a hat-trick as well as goals from Jamie O’Hara and Will Longbottom to win 5-3 at St. Colman’s Park.
Cobh finished the month in 5th place, with the defeat to Cork City damaging their intentions of rising further up the league table.
As Cobh finished up their involvement in one of the cup competitions, it made July a month purely focused on league performance and in that situation, Conor McDonald thrived.
Shamrock Rovers was initially meant to be the first game of the month, but with a waterlogged pitch at St. Colman’s Park postponing the game, Cobh had to take on reigning champions Dundalk with a whole week to prepare.
The additional time seemed to be vital for McDonald whose team smashed the four-in-a-row winners 3-0 at Oriel Park as Dundalk were made to wait for their first victory over Cobh in 2022. Longbottom, Powell and new arrival Layton Stewart all scored, with Stewart making his debut one to remember.
Cobh rushed into their next game - the postponed fixture against Shamrock Rovers - just two days after the result against Dundalk and fitness was not a problem as Cobh romped home to their fourth win in a row thanks to two own goals from Shamrock Rovers’ defenders and an additional finish from Samizadeh.
Filling in with Cobh’s rushed schedule, St. Patrick’s Athletic were next four days later and it seemed that fitness was catching up with The Rams’ players but they still managed to forge a point with a ‘Layt’ but great Stewart goal in the 87th minute to equalise following Chris Forrester’s opening penalty in the first half.
Top three side Bohemian were up next and the good news was that Cobh were back on schedule, given the usual week to prepare for the game. This paid off in the end with a tightly drawn affair ending 3-2 in favour of McDonald as Rafiki Said bagged two and Alex Samizadeh picked up another goal for his incredible ongoing league goalscoring record.
The last game of the month sent Cobh to the summit of the league whilst simultaneously sending University College Dublin to the foot of the league with a 5-1 win at home with the highlight of the game being a Matt Dolan screamer from thirty yards into the left side netting in the 45th minute.
Looking at the table at the end of July, Cobh have every right to be proud of themselves after being touted as second-favourites for relegation and at 200/1 odds to win the league that they now sit on top of thanks to a superb unbeaten run throughout June and July. No immediate threats to their position have games in hand either, making life even better for Conor McDonald.
One thing that has shocked Irish football supporters aside from the Cobh dominance is the incredible downfall of the current champions Dundalk and last year’s runners-up Shamrock Rovers who find themselves 7th and 8th in the table, with Shamrock Rovers even now at threat of potential relegation if not too careful.
James: Both the big departures of Middleton and Talley had to be considered though considering Middleton's age and Talley's involvement with the starting eleven week-in-week-out, but I'm glad we've sorted those things out! Regardless, those positive results are coming!