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Conor McDonald: The Student

Started on 18 April 2020 by Jack
Latest Reply on 10 August 2022 by JodydollIver63

October was the month where Cobh Ramblers finally finished their incredible 2022 campaign by securing two trophies, completing a seasonal quadruple with the Irish Premier League and the FAI Cup.

Cobh Ramblers found their way past First Division outfit Drogheda United relatively easily with a storming 5-1 win with Layton Stewart and Will McGowan getting their team off to a great start with two early goals. Before the first half concluded, Cobh were already 4-0 up with another goal from Layton Stewart and one from Alex Samizadeh.

Will McGowan completed Cobh’s scoring to make it 5-0 in the 55th minute, making Drogheda obsolete aside from a late consolation goal from Greg Moorhouse.

After Dundalk lost a vital game in hand to Sligo Rovers, they lost a crucial advantage in the title race with Cobh having plenty to thank David Cawley for as he bagged a brace in a 3-0 win against the sole title challengers going into the final day.

This meant that Conor McDonald had a one-point advantage over Dundalk going into the 3PM kick-off at the Belfield Bowl. Cobh seized on their advantage by smashing the already relegated University College Dublin 5-0.

After an early sending off for Gavin Gunning, Will McGowan put Cobh in the lead, closely followed by a second from Layton Stewart. The 20-year-old bagged his brace just before the half-time whistle.

In the last five minutes, Will Longbottom and Danny Lupano both decided to heap on the misery for The Students and delight for The Rams with goals in the 86th and 89th minutes, sending them on their way to collect the club’s first ever Premier League title in its centenary year.

A trip back to the capital was due a fortnight later to face Bohemian in the FAI Ford Cup Final at the Aviva Stadium where the Republic of Ireland national team play senior fixtures.

Layton Stewart scored a very early opener for his team in the 3rd minute of play before it was cancelled out by the opposition's right-winger Luke Wade-Slater.

The score remained at 1-1 all the way through normal time and then all the way through extra-time, meaning the score had to be settled on penalties.

The shootout was a tense occasion, going to sudden-death at the very last as Bohemian missed their third penalty meanwhile Jacob Hanson missed the penalty that would’ve won them the cup. However, Matt Blake stepped up for the first penalty in sudden-death and tidily poked the ball to the left as Daniel Grant’s effort was saved by Josef Perrin, leading Cobh Ramblers to an incredible quadruple-winning season under Conor McDonald.

Wolf: Thank you mate! :D
James: I feel like Conor's earned a gamble this time around, call it Pavlovian conditioning ;)
tedbro20: Thank you mate, it took me by surprise!
Justice: We'll just call it one of the footballing urban myths :P
Scott: The run of form pre-September really was the turning point and the part where we really showed title-winning qualities. Who knows what's next? With UCL football now arriving on the south coast, what else can another club offer him?
Seb: Cobh should be doing everything to retain Conor's services I believe, after this seasons achievements alone! Stewart has been nothing short of exceptional and really pushed us over the line with his performances after July. The quadruple is done and who knows, maybe Dundalk's dominance will be replaced by a Cobh dominance!
***Stands and applauds***

Cobh Ramblers midfielder Jamie O’Hara has announced his retirement from football at any level.

The 36-year-old became Player-Manager of his former side Billericay Town in June 2019 but returned to a full-time playing role when he joined Cobh Ramblers in December 2019 after admitting management was taking his focus away from the field and that he enjoyed playing more at this current time.

O’Hara signed a new one-year deal when Cobh Ramblers won the Airtricity First Division in 2021 alongside a statement that he would be retiring at the end of the 2022 campaign.

“I’m finally hanging up my boots for good,” said O’Hara, whose last game was played out at the Aviva Stadium as he lifted his club’s fourth trophy of the season in the FAI Ford Cup Final.

His final league match saw Cobh Ramblers presented with the Airtricity Premier League trophy - O’Hara’s seventh trophy since arriving at the club.

O’Hara has been a key figure in Conor McDonald’s plans, being made club captain from the day of his arrival at St. Colman’s Park. He has made 95 appearances for Cobh Ramblers in the three years he has been in Ireland.

He added: “Playing football is all I have ever wanted to do since a young lad growing up in Dartford, and to have such a long and successful career, finishing off at such an amazing club, under a manager that I imagine is going to go a lot further in his career whether it’s in Ireland or elsewhere, has been an honour.”

His manager Conor McDonald said: “Jamie is a truly unbelievable player. He has always been fully committed to this club and it has been a real privilege to work with him for the past three fantastic years.

"I’m glad that Jamie’s playing career ended the way it did with a quadruple and collecting the club’s first ever Premier League and FAI Cup titles. He has earned the honour to do that for this club.”

O’Hara’s team-mate Mark O’Brien tweeted: "One of the best I played alongside and also one of the most naturally gifted players too."

O’Hara came through the Arsenal youth system in 2001, at the same time as former players such as Jermaine Pennant, Steve Sidwell and Jeremie Aladiere but moved to North London rivals Tottenham Hotspur, making his Premier League debut in 2007 following a successful loan spell at Chesterfield.

He made 29 appearances throughout the 2022 season, making a strong impact of 8 goals and 7 assists from the defensive midfield position.

O’Hara has now said that he is pursuing permanent managerial positions and may consider a return to Cobh Ramblers in the future but is said to be considering his options elsewhere for the time being.

Griffo: I believe that to be appropriate ;)
To Conor:

To O'Hara:

Really good season at Cobh, can't wait to see how Conor bottles handles European football next season.
O'Hara has been a crucial cog in the well-oiled machine at Cobh. His experience and talent will be missed.
Sad to see O'Hara retiring as he was such an important player both on and off the field. It'll be interesting to see how a vital leader will be replaced.
A Cobh hero. He won't be forgotten any time soon. His impact will be a lasting one and he has left a legacy that cannot be diminished!
O'Hara was the heart of the side, a player who may not be one of the clubs greats after the dust settles but certainly someone the fans will not forget!
Always sad to see a hero go, hopefully there's a new prospect born from this

Conor McDonald has begun his hunt for new players to challenge in the Champions League by snapping up 29-year-old left-midfielder Luke Garbutt on a free transfer.

Garbutt started his career at Leeds United’s academy before an early move to Premier League outfit Everton for a fee of £600,000 in 2009.

After three years in the Everton youth teams with David Moyes in charge at Goodison Park, Garbutt was sent out on loan to League Two side Cheltenham Town and made a great impact in his first season involved in regular competitive football.

Another loan spell came around in the 2013/14 to League One side Colchester United before returning to Goodison Park in 2014 under The Toffees’ new manager Roberto Martinez as he made four Premier League appearances for his team.

However, following Martinez’s sacking in May 2016, the clock was ticking on Garbutt’s career but more loan moves followed to Fulham, Wigan, Oxford and Ipswich before his contract with Everton finally expired at the end of the 2019/20 campaign as the mid-season appointment of Javi Gracia ruled him out of any further involvement with the team he spent 11 years under contract with.

Garbutt spent the previous two years of his career at Blackpool, where he won promotion with the club from League Two and featured heavily in the club’s League One campaign in 2021/22, scoring five league goals from left-back.

Following the qualification into the UEFA Champions League by winning the Airtricity Premier League in 2022, Cobh Ramblers agreed a two-year deal with Garbutt ending in December 2024.

Garbutt said: “I’m delighted to have taken the next step in my career with Cobh under the gaffer, McDonald.

“I’m really excited to get my first taste of European football in the Champions League later on this year.

“The boss told us what the club have achieved in the last few years and it truly amazed me with what the club has done from being promoted a couple seasons back and then taking the top-flight title and securing Champions League football - it’s admirable.”

Garbutt failed to make an international cap with England however, the Harrogate-born left-midfielder did make 11 Under-21 England caps in his earlier years.

James: The gifs say it all for me, I needn't write anymore updates ;) No need for the attitude towards Europe! ;)
Scott: He's made an impact from day one and throughout, a great mentor for the youngsters as well. I hope to bring him into the staff someday!
Seb: Indeed, Mark O'Brien is the current vice-captain, though I haven't decided if we need a new leader over O'Brien.
Justice: The club's rise goes hand-in-hand with his time playing at the club, a superb servant.
Griffo: He's a fan favourite, that's for sure. He'll be welcomed back if he ever chooses to come back in another capacity
Wolf: His departure definitely leaves the defensive midfield role empty and ready for taking if somebody wants it. As for the captaincy, that is under the same bracket.
Did not expect that signing O.O Once touted as a future England star, he will be a major addition to the squad!
What a signing. Can we expect more big signings coming in after this as well
Brilliant addition to an already talented side. Excellent move for Cobh.

Following the early capture of Luke Garbutt from Blackpool, Conor McDonald has continued his recruitment for the 2023 campaign by adding Sligo Rovers defender John Mahon to the St. Colman’s Park setup.

The 2021 Young Irish Player of the Year award winner has signed a two-year deal with Cobh Ramblers.

Mahon, 23, made his professional debut with his boyhood club Sligo Rovers in the 2018 Airtricity Premier League campaign in the season where they finished 7th place.

From there, the centre-back has gone on to make 146 appearances in all competitions, becoming a regular feature in the Sligo back line week-in-week-out, eventually earning him his first Republic of Ireland Under-21s cap against Croatia in 2021.

Mahon stated that he was ‘sad’ to leave the club that gave him the opportunity as a local boy to become a professional footballer but that the attraction to Champions League football was too strong for him to ignore at Cobh Ramblers.

Cobh manager Conor McDonald said: “I’m delighted to have pushed this one over the line.

“Despite our successes last season, we really did struggle to keep the goals out of the net and it became a common occurrence that the opposition would score against us in games despite leading the way.

“John comes in to help us put that to an end as well as help us going forward in our European endeavours.”

Justice: Indeed! I think he’s a fantastic signing that will take us to the next required level domestically, looking forward to seeing how he does!
tedbro20: Well your answer is right here! I don’t think there will be as many transfers as previous seasons compare, but a few new faces will be brought in.
Seb: No-brainer to bring him in for me, proven quality at higher levels of the game already.
Two fantastic additions to the squad. Plenty of international pedigree albeit on the youth stage at points in their respective careers. I am very surprised to see Garbutt lured to the club, even with Champions League football on offer.

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