On FM Scout you can chat about Football Manager in real time since 2011. Here are 10 reasons to join!

Conor McDonald: The Student

Started on 18 April 2020 by Jack
Latest Reply on 10 August 2022 by JodydollIver63
Garbutt is a really handy pick up... might take this league by storm

As Cobh enter their first season in the Champions League, Conor McDonald has aligned his focus on transfers mainly on bolstering the clubs’ youth team with talent from overseas.

The club did sign twelve first-team players starting with the arrival of former Everton winger Luke Garbutt and Sligo Rovers’ John Mahon.

To balance this, Cobh were able to offload twelve former first-team players stuck from the First Division days.

As previously mentioned, the focus was put on Cobh’s youth recruitment with nine players coming into the club’s Under-19s team, mainly from the Spanish lower tiers following the arrival of a Spanish scout.

Cobh played five friendlies in preseason before their restart in the Premier League against Dundalk and won all five with the biggest challenge being Galway United from the First Division.

With Luke Garbutt and John Mahon firing the starting pistol on first-team recruitment, there were ten other additions for Cobh’s 2023 assault on European football.

Mark Byrne arrived from Gillingham to cover for the retirement of fan favourite Jamie O’Hara.

Despite his age, Byrne has kept hold of his technical ability which has earned him over 500 career appearances since starting out at Nottingham Forest’s academy in the mid-2000s. In the 2020/21 campaign, Byrne created 11 league assists in League One before making 36 league appearances last season.

His career has mainly spanned between the fifth and third tiers of English football but his experience is something that most teams in our league will envy.

Coming in to challenge Byrne for his defensive midfield spot is another experienced player in Alan Power who arrives on a free transfer from Scottish Premiership side Kilmarnock.

Before the Irishman’s venture into Scotland, Power spent seven years in the English National League with both the now defunct Rushden & Diamonds as well as Lincoln City.

He will be reunited with Mark Byrne who he moved to Nottingham Forest with from Crumlin United in 2006.

Coming in as an attacking midfielder is Peterborough United’s Dylan Watts on a free transfer.

Watts is no stranger to the Irish Premier League having spent two seasons playing consistently with Bohemian and Shamrock Rovers before his free transfer back to English football.

After doing well with Shamrock Rovers in 2019, it is hoped that he pulls off similar performances for Cobh.

Coming in as Watts’ competitor for the attacking midfield spot is French 30-year-old Jonathan Isambart on a free transfer from US Camon in Ligues Régionales.

Despite coming through the Stade Rennais academy as a youngster, Isambart found his level among the lower tiers of French football with AC Amiens, Cannes and Camon.

Since he has never been outside the French league system, Isambart is somewhat of an unknown quantity coming into the Irish Premier League.

Following the departure of Reis Peggie and the injury to Matt Blake, Portuguese left-back Filipe Gaspar arrives at the club from Sintra Football on a free transfer.

Similar to the transfer of Jonathan Isambart, Gaspar comes in as an unknown quantity as he has never played outside of his home nation having spent his career in the Portuguese lower tiers.

Cobh’s final first-team mainland European import came in the form of right midfielder Javi Otero who arrives from Spanish Third Division side Arosa.

Otero came through the youth ranks of Valencia before his release and subsequent quest through the lower tiers of Spanish football. With Daniel Powell competing on the right, it will be interesting to see who wins the battle for the starting spot in Conor McDonald’s starting eleven in the league.

Conor McDonald’s first-ever loan signing came in from Scottish Premiership outfit St. Johnstone as 20-year-old Michael McFarlane arrived on Irish soil.

McFarlane will likely make his senior debut on loan at Cobh, having not featured for St. Johnstone in any capacity after graduating from their academy.

McDonald was impressed by the youngsters quickness on the ball as well as his ability to cross a ball in for the St. Johnstone youth teams.

Cobh did impressively add to their frontline with the addition of Glen McAuley from St. Patrick’s Athletic on a free transfer.

The former Liverpool youth graduate has become a consistent goalscorer in the Irish Premier League since his arrival in Dublin, scoring 21 goals in just over 60 appearances for St. Patrick’s Athletic in the past two years.

He will have a pecking order to topple this season however, with Cobh Ramblers hosting last season’s two top scorers in Rafiki Said and Alex Samizadeh as well as the extremely impressive Layton Stewart who played superbly in the second half of the season following his arrival from Halesowen Town.

Coming in as a right-back is Forest Green Rovers’ Liam Shephard on a free transfer.

Conor McDonald released the club’s backup right-back Charlie Fleming this January at the end of his contract having been kept out of the team by Jacob Hanson. However, the tables might be about to turn with Shephard already being given the number 2 shirt for the season.

Cobh’s latest and likely final deal of the transfer window is experienced English goalkeeper Richard O’Donnell who comes in on a free transfer from Wycombe Wanderers.

O’Donnell has made 429 career appearances over the period of his 18-year time as a professional footballer, starting out at Sheffield Wednesday and gradually forcing his way into their League One team in 2010.

After a series of loans out of Hillsborough, he finally signed a permanent deal with Walsall who made him a number one before three consecutive seasons in the Championship with both Wigan Athletic and Rotherham United.

The battle between the sticks will be interesting with young (Josef Perrin) going up against old (Richard O’Donnell) at St. Colman’s Park.

Over the course of January, Cobh have let nine of their players leave on loan including new arrival Pelayo Ventura and summer signing Dario de Pellegrin.

A lot of players have left to join Galway United in the First Division with no less than five players heading to the West of Ireland.

The only deal that made cash revenue was the departure of Khavarn Williams who joined Dundalk for a small fee of €24,000.

Cobh Ramblers’ first fixture of the season will be against Dundalk in the Premier League and will be looking to retrieve their crown this season.

Shelbourne and Limerick have both been promoted following University College Dublin’s automatic relegation and Shamrock Rovers’ shock relegation following defeat in the Play-Off against Limerick.

Scott: Definitely, the defence needed a lot of quality added following last season's games where we conceded a lot of goals. I'm certainly more interested to see Garbutt out there, though!
Griffo: Let's hope we can retain it another year!
I'm very impressed with plenty of those signings. I think the standout for me is Liam Shepherd but Glen McAuley looks another fantastic piece of business. There seems to be a bit of a foreign contingent growing which I wasn't expecting at this stage.

Shamrock relegated though :O
I'm acquainted to this Liam Shepherd guy, he's a good player for this level

and McAuley's finishing capabilities have jumped to my eye, let's hope he delivers

Cobh Ramblers have announced that Conor McDonald will be staying on as manager for a further two years as the 25-year-old signed a contract extension.

Following the Premier League title victory last season, combined with successes in the Munster Senior Cup, EA Sports Cup and FAI Ford Cup, it is easy to see why the East Cork side were keen to secure McDonald’s services until 2025.

McDonald took over at Cobh in June 2019, shortly after his university graduation from UCFBs Turf Moor campus following youth team coaching roles at Burnley Football Club and Tranmere Rovers.

The Liverpudlian led Cobh to a 6th placed finish in his first six months as manager before achieving a Play-Off place in the First Division in his first full season at St. Colman’s Park.

Success finally came around for McDonald, lifting the First Division title in 2021 before an extraordinary Premier League title-winning season last term despite being the bookies favourite to drop back down into the second tier immediately.

Known for his attacking style of play and tactical consistency with a 4-4-2 formation, McDonald has won five cup competitions alongside his two league titles during his current three-and-a-half year period as manager of Cobh Ramblers.

The Rams will now be competing in the UEFA Champions League later in 2023 for the first time in the club’s history having never won a Premier League title in it’s 100-year history.

McDonald said: “I’m delighted that the board has offered me a new contract.

“I pay particular respect to the chairman, Michael O’Donovan, for believing in my ability from the first interview before offering me the role here.

“He’s been a great supporter of me and the club itself and his involvement has no doubt been a factor in this club’s success.

“Now I just look forward to taking the club to the next level which will be in the Champions League and Europe in general as well as building up a great side for the Premier League.”

McDonald was not the only person happy with the acceptance of the new contract with Michael O’Donovan breaking his media silence to comment on the new contract as well as giving a slight hint as to the future direction of Cobh Ramblers.

O’Donovan said: “It’s been a wonderful few years with Conor in charge, the best years in fact.

“Conor has come in and gone way beyond any expectations I had of him since he arrived here as a young lad.

“I am proud to have brought him in - I would go as far to say that Conor McDonald will be my legacy here at Cobh.

“Over the past few months I have been considering my position and I suppose that is a factor in offering Conor a new deal here. I want him to be solid in his job if somebody else came in to run the club.”

It is unknown whether Cobh Ramblers have an interested suitor looking to take over but it surely sounded like a statement of potential departure from O’Donovan.

Scott: Shephard will definitely be taking over a starting role ahead of Hanson this time and McAuley, despite his superb attributes in front of goal will have to play second fiddle to the likes of Said, Sami and Stewart. Shamrock going down really stunned me! I'm sure it won't be long before we see them back, though.
Tango: I really like the look of him, for sure! McAuley will be a good man to bring on if we're lacking in front of goal.
A lot of good signings and hopefully they can help you retain the premiership title. It's good to see Conor commit to the club again as well with another new deal.
Brilliant work once again in the transfer market that will bolster the squad well. Some expereinced players joining will really help the loss of O'Hara so that is great to see. If O’Donovan does end up leaving and his final act is to extend Conor's contract, it will be a well worth move setting up Cobh for future success I am sure.

Following the conclusion of Cobh’s preseason friendlies, Cobh headed into their first opportunity to win silverware in the President’s Cup against Dundalk but they failed to do so, losing 1-0 on home turf.

Adrian Granger scored the only goal of the game as Dundalk lifted the cup at St. Colman’s Park.

Cobh’s first league game of the season was against their old foes Shelbourne at Tolka Park. The two sides have a running history during McDonald’s reign with Shelbourne poaching several of Cobh’s key players during their time in the First Division.

Things got off to a bad start for Cobh just after the second half restart with Rob Cornwall scoring the opener. It was the two new signings Alan Power and Glen McAuley who scored their first goals for their new team who turned the game around to put Cobh’s first three points on the board.

Cobh’s final game of February came against their fierce rivals Cork City at St. Colman’s Park.

Layton Stewart put Cobh ahead in the 5th minute before Cork hit right back with a Georgie Kelly goal four minutes later. Cork then took an unexpected lead in the 15th minute through Garry Buckley however, this too was short-lived as Stewart scored his brace just before half-time.

It was Cobh’s marquee January signing Luke Garbutt who sealed all three points in the end for The Rams with a 70th minute goal at the near post.

Cobh were due to play against Waterford at the end of the month but due to a waterlogged pitch the game was postponed until March.

Despite only playing two games - the lowest in the league - Cobh managed to achieve a 4th placed spot with their 100% record throughout February.

Cobh’s 100% win rate in the league was maintained all the way through March with six wins out of six as well as a winning start in the Munster Senior Cup.

The month began with Cobh facing the league leaders Sligo Rovers who had won three and drawn one of their past four games in February. They were defeated 4-3 at The Showgrounds.

Sligo Rovers took a 2-0 lead early on in the game down to Ronan Coughlan and Jordan Flores’ goals. However, Rafiki Said hit back one minute later to make it 2-1 and cut Sligo’s lead.

After a quiet second half, things heated up in the last ten minutes with Rafiki Said’s second goal of the game making the scores level before Alan Power put Cobh ahead in the 84th minute. The scores were drawn level once again through Ronan Coughlan. Layton Stewart became the hero, though, as he scored in the 91st minute to win all three points for Cobh.

Cobh then came up against their new competitive rivals in Dundalk with a stunning 6-1 win at St. Colman’s Park.

Rafiki Said scored in the 1st minute of the game but the game went quiet until the second half when Said completed his brace shortly after the break. Layton Stewart added another two goals before Dylan Watts scored Cobh’s fifth goal of the game.

Harvey Cullinan pulled one back for Dundalk but Layton Stewart simply piled on the misery by finishing off his hat-trick and Cobh’s sixth and final goal of the game.

Cobh hit St. Patrick’s Athletic for six in the second game in a row thanks to yet another glorious performance from Layton Stewart.

Stewart and Glen McAuley put Cobh two ahead within the first 15 minutes but St. Patrick’s Athletic pulled the game level by just after the half-hour mark. This was shortly followed by an unbelievable goal bonanza within six minutes with one from Alan Power and two from Layton Stewart, confirming his second hat-trick in as many games. Mark O’Brien finished the scoring off with a header in the 68th minute to finish the game 6-2.

Cobh’s next game was against Limerick in what would be the two sides’ first meeting in just under two years from their First Division days together. It would turn out to be another good day for the Cobh fans as their side romped home to a 4-1 win.

Alex Samizadeh scored the first of the game in the 6th minute as he returned to the scoresheet. This was followed by a second from Layton Stewart before Samizadeh completed his brace.

In the second half, Javi Otero scored his first goal for Cobh Ramblers as he made it 4-0 in favour of his team. Cian Murphy scored with ten minutes left on the clock but it was only to be a consolation goal.

Waterford were up next in Cobh’s penultimate league clash of the month and it turned out to be an eight-goal thriller ending 5-3 in favour of Conor McDonald’s side.

Warren O’Hara’s own goal in the 11th minute opened the scoring for Cobh before Waterford equalised in the 20th minute through Conor Corcoran. Jonathan Isambart put his team in front with his first goal for the club, closely followed up by Glen McAuley.

Waterford pulled two goals back to level the game at 3-3 before Cobh’s attack got back into gear in the last seven minutes of the game with Glen McAuley’s brace and finally a goal from Daniel Powell in the 93rd minute.

The entrance to the Munster Senior Cup was made in the Quarter-Final and it turned out to be a heavy win in favour of Cobh against Mayfield United as Layton Stewart led his team to the Semi-Final with his third hat-trick of the month.

Mark O’Brien and Javi Otero started the scoring before Layton Stewart scored three goals in a row and Alan Power scored the last goal of the first-half, making it 6-0 going into the second half. Jonathan Isambart scored the seventh before Power finished his brace and Glen McAuley completed Cobh’s scoring with the ninth goal. Peter Hayes pulled one back for Mayfield that was a matter for little celebration if at all.

Cobh’s last game of the month came in the Premier League against this season’s early strugglers Derry City who have not been able to dig themselves out of the relegation positions lately.

Layton Stewart scored his 11th league goal of the game in the 6th minute. However, Junior Morias equalised in the 23rd minute. Alan Power scored just before the half-time whistle to put Cobh in the lead which was a lead that McDonald’s side protected all the way through the other 45 minutes.

This unstoppable form from Cobh puts them at the top of the table with Dundalk trailing five points behind in 2nd place. Other teams past 2nd place have failed to keep pace with 3rd placed Sligo Rovers being eleven points off the pace.

tedbro20: Retaining the league title is the ambition, that's for certain! Added job security is also a positive for Conor and everyone around the club.
Seb: The defensive midfielders in the side are very experienced so that was the whole idea with O'Hara electing to retire! I'm not sure whether O'Donovan will go but the club is seemingly up for sale for whoever wants it :P
36 goals scored and 12 conceded in 7 matches

where did you get this hockey simulator game?
Only the three hattricks for Stewart, how long until you sell such an under performing player :O Incredible two months that didn't quite get off to the best start with the cup loss. However, you certainly extracted revenge on Dundalk with that 6-1 win :D
And now the walking over of the league begins! Aside from the cup result, the league games have been impressive! It looks like Cobh will be retaining their title this year!

The proposed takeover of Cobh Ramblers by former Shelbourne chairman Joe Casey has collapsed following his consortium’s failure to show proof of funds.

Cobh chairman Michael O’Donovan initiated a call to arms in effect by announcing he is willing to consider offers for the club, attracting two main contenders.

Joe Casey and Shane Tierney’s consortiums were the two rivals in looking to purchase the club throughout the past few weeks.

The process produced a lot of headlines when Casey admitted that he would be looking to install a new manager at Cobh if he were to be successful in taking over the club, thus removing club hero Conor McDonald.

This attracted opposition from both fans and Casey’s challenger Tierney, stating that it was unfair to lead the fans on as well as show complete disrespect to the current manager McDonald who he said he has a lot of admiration for.

Shortly after, Tierney dropped out of the race over disagreements over the valuation of the club despite being the preferred candidate from O’Donovan’s perspective.

Casey’s consortium persisted with talks as the sole candidates to takeover but these discussions were reportedly met with a lot of derision by the club’s current board.

Yesterday evening Goal reported that Cobh Ramblers had pulled the plug on the deal after it was rumoured that the leader of the consortium Joe Casey had not revealed that he possessed the sufficient funds to complete the previously agreed takeover from O’Donovan.

This may have come as a relief to some Cobh fans who already created opposition to a Casey takeover due to his plans with managerial strategy.

However, Michael O’Donovan when confirming that the takeover had failed did comment saying that it would be unwise to rule out the possibility of him investing in the club in the future.

Tango: This is the Cobh way of doing things :P
Seb: Stewart stays as long as he keeps scoring, simple as ;)
Justice: If Dundalk can do four times in a row, so can we :P
A strong start to the season. Plenty of goals being scored but quite a few being leaked as well. The defence did look to be significantly improved but perhaps they are still yet to fully gel and consequently it will take time for a strong defence on paper to transition onto the pitch.

I'm pleased to see the deal fell through purely for the fact it was a disgrace to even consider replacing McDonald.

April became a slightly ugly month for Cobh Ramblers in the league despite performing well in the cup competitions.

The first game of the month was against Premier League outfit Bohemian which ended in a scoreless draw and the first time that Cobh dropped points this season.

This was quickly remedied in their next league fixture against title challengers Dundalk in an exciting seven-goal thriller ending 4-3 as Cobh defeated their title rivals for the second time this season.

Glen McAuley and Layton Stewart put Cobh Ramblers two goals ahead by the 25th minute. Robbie Benson pegged Cobh back with a penalty but Javi Otero put Cobh firmly back in front until Andy Scott and Jamie Gray drew Dundalk level with Cobh. Cian Bolger gave away a costly penalty in the 89th minute, leading to Dylan Watts securing all three points from the spot.

Cobh then returned to Munster Senior Cup action in the Semi-Final against Cork City. Despite being taken to extra-time, Cobh ran out as 3-2 winners to take them to the Final.

Alan Power and Stefan Takac gave Cobh a two-goal advantage however, this was pulled back through Horgan and Crowley in the last minute of normal time. Rafiki Said proved decisive with a goal in the 115th minute of the game to take Cobh to the Final.

After the successes in the cup, Cobh were pulled back down to earth with their first league loss of the season to Shelbourne.

Shane Farrell opened the scoring in the 25th minute before James English finished off the game with no goals scored from Cobh Ramblers.

Cobh then returned to cup action by entering the EA Sports Cup Second Round against Limerick in which they progressed to the Quarter-Finals after a 4-2 win at St. Colman’s Park.

Glen McAuley, Layton Stewart and Alan Power all put Cobh three goals ahead just after the second half started. Daniel O’Reilly tried his best to get Limerick back in the game with a brace but John Mahon fired back with a late header to confirm the win.

Cobh ended the month of April with an away tie against their rivals Cork City in the league which ended as a scoreless draw in a less than impressive month in the Premier League.

Advancing into May, Cobh proved that they deserved to be up there once again with yet another sterling performance in all competitions, finishing the month with a 100% win rate.

The first game back after the Cork City draw was an away tie at Limerick’s Markets Field and Layton Stewart wiped the floor with them with a hat-trick in a 3-0 victory to strengthen their position at the top of the league.

Cobh returned to the EA Sports Cup in May with a Quarter-Final tie against St. Patrick’s Athletic at Richmond Park. They progressed through to the Semi-Finals with a 3-1 win.

Aodh Dervin started off the scoring by tucking away an early penalty in the 6th minute of the game. Glen McAuley got Cobh back into the game with a first half brace. Layton Stewart then confirmed the win with a goal in the 65th minute.

Two very tight results then came through as Layton Stewart proved to be the difference yet again in 1-0 wins against Sligo Rovers and St. Patrick’s Athletic.

Cobh then finished May with a Premier League tie against Waterford at the Regional Sports Centre, finishing 3-2 in Cobh’s favour.

Layton Stewart scored a six-minute brace before Glen McAuley made it 3-0 in the 23rd minute. Former Cobh striker Lee Middleton tried to get his side back into the game as well as Sam Bone’s goal in the 81st minute but it wasn’t enough as Cobh’s defence held tight.

The results in May meant that Cobh developed a four-point lead from April to a ten-point chasm by the start of June with Sligo Rovers and Dundalk now battling together for 2nd spot.

Scott: The defence has grown a little bit tighter with time, as you mentioned. I'm just as delighted that the takeover fell through!

June followed on from a perfect month in May so Cobh’s act was hard to follow and that showed as Cobh dropped points. However, Conor McDonald won his ninth trophy as Cobh manager as the Munster Senior Cup returned to St. Colman’s Park for another year.

Cobh’s first fixture of the month was a league game against Derry City and Conor McDonald’s side picked up their first three points of June in a 2-0 thanks to goals from Jonathan Isambart and Glen McAuley.

The Munster Senior Cup Final was next against Limerick following Cobh’s extra-time victory against Cork City in the Semi-Finals. They took home the prize in similar fashion with a 2-1 win in extra-time.

Javi Otero scored the opener late-on in the 75th minute but Jack Leahy grabbed an essential equaliser in the 89th minute to take it to extra-time. Thanks to Glen McAuley’s outstretched leg, Cobh went ahead until the end of the game with four minutes remaining.

Cobh’s return to league football was rusty with two consecutive losses. Ross Tierney scored a brace for Bohemian as his side ran out 2-0 winners at Dalymount Park. A televised game against Dundalk was Cobh’s second loss due to a Richard O’Donnell own goal and Jamie Gray scoring in a 2-1 defeat.

Cobh ended the month in typical Conor McDonald fashion with a 5-4 win against rock bottom Shelbourne with Glen McAuley bagging a brace.

By the end of June despite two losses, Cobh still had an eight-point lead on the top of the table ahead of Dundalk who had beaten them in the month.

July marked the month that Cobh Ramblers would make their first-ever venture into European football as they drew Welsh champions The New Saints in the 2nd Qualifying Round.

However, the month started with another goal bonanza as Cobh drew 4-4 against their rivals Cork City in the league with Glen McAuley to thank for a late, late equaliser in the 93rd minute.

Cobh then entered the Champions League in style with a 7-2 home win against The New Saints, practically securing their spot in the next qualifying round of the competition. Layton Stewart was on fire in this fixture, scoring five out of the seven Cobh goals.

Stewart kept up his scoring form in the same week with a hat-trick against Sligo Rovers in the 3-1 victory against the title rivals at The Showgrounds.

Despite the 2nd Qualifying Round being already won in the first round with their heavy 7-2 win, Cobh confirmed their spot with a 3-1 win at Montgomery Waters Meadow, making it a 10-3 win on aggregate in favour of Cobh Ramblers.

After flying high in their European debut, Cobh were brought crashing back to earth in Ireland with a 2-1 loss to Limerick in the Premier League due to a 94th minute winner from Limerick’s Mark Doyle.

Cobh returned to midweek European football with a shock 2-0 away win against Norwegian champions Rosenborg at Lerkendal with Layton Stewart scoring both goals in the 45th and 93rd minute. The Second Leg will take place at the beginning of August.

Cobh finished the month with a Premier League tie against St. Patrick’s Athletic with a 5-1 away win at Richmond Park thanks to a Glen McAuley hat-trick and an Alex Samizadeh brace.

With Cobh’s place in the Champions League pending on the result of the Rosenborg tie’s Second Leg, Cobh find themselves now only five points ahead of 2nd placed Dundalk in the league as they are now the only real contenders due to 3rd placed Sligo falling 14 points behind the league leaders.

You are reading "Conor McDonald: The Student".

FMS Chat

hey, just wanted to let you know that we have a fb style chat for our members. login or sign up to start chatting.