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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

Conor McDonald still has not managed to keep up with his July exploits at Cobh Ramblers as his side fell to another league loss to Drogheda.

Cobh’s closest rivals Cork City arranged to play a friendly against the Rams for September’s first fixture of the month. The Premier League outfit are doing well in the league, on course for a Europa League place as they stand in 4th place.

The game was played in front of St. Colman’s Park’s biggest crowd of 2019 with 3,047 people piled through the turnstiles for the friendly. Cobh performed well, managing to hold Cork City to a 1-1 draw as Cian Leonard cancelled out Danny Morrissey’s opener.

League action resumed with a trip to Drogheda’s United Park in front of an 842-strong crowd with 20 fans travelling from East Cork.

The story was laid out in the second half as Ian Turner bagged an opener for The Rams but Michael Gregan equalised in the 84th minute with Drogheda securing three points with a late and devastating winner from Stephen Meaney in the 94th minute.

Cobh organised another friendly with a Cork side as they took on University College Cork at St. Colman’s Park. McDonald’s men won 3-0 against the local side with Cian Leonard, Kevin Taylor and Stephen O’Leary all netting goals.

Cobh Rambler’s won their first and only three points of September through a 1-0 win at home against Cabinteely at the back end of the month with Cian Leonard scoring the only goal of the game just before half-time.

Once again, Cobh Ramblers have not moved position from 6th place and look unlikely to for the rest of the season with Drogheda United impossible to catch as they sit seventeen points ahead of Cobh and five points ahead of Limerick with only three games of the Irish First Division remaining.

Griffo: I'm excited for when the new transfer window opens to see what we can get!
Eoin: Certainly, money and players on our side, development on Shamrock's Rover's side.
Scott: After taking a look into their teams, there are a few I have in mind!
Seb: Promotion may be a few years away for now but the link-up certainly facilitates growth for the upcoming seasons.
tedbro20: As I said to Scott, after linking up, I took a look into their teams and there are a few I have my eye on!
Tough loss against Drogheda... That is a horrible way to lose not only a point initially, but then also all three!
You’re probably very high in the home table, but the away form shows just how important having the home advantage can be in leagues like this! I think you’d probably take the current position in the table and be happy to end it there - and then you can set your sights on closing that gap next season.
I am with Justice here, time to settle and consolidate before making your move next season

“Morning Conor!” Michael O’Donovan called as he walked down Conor’s driveway. O’Donovan was holding a black leather bag around his shoulder with a big smile on his face.

Conor was painting a dressing table in a shabby chic style. Conor didn’t make as much money to really live on at Cobh Ramblers so buying and selling furniture after dressing it up a little bit became his side business which made decent profit but it was a one-man team so progress was slow.

“Morning Mr Chairman! I wasn’t expecting to see you this morning,” said Conor, putting down the pot of grease he was using to distress the table and standing up to greet O’Donovan. “Lovely day today, isn’t it? Especially for October,”

“Oh, indeed it is. It gave me a reason to get out of the house as well!” Michael laughed as he shook Conor’s hand. “Mind if we can talk inside? I’ve got a matter of business to address with you.”

Conor guided Michael into his temporary home. He still lived in the house that the club supplied him with when he first joined the club as finding a place to rent or buy was difficult on his wage even if he did have the biggest wage in the club.

“Do you take sugar with your coffee, Michael?” Conor asked as he poured the boiling water into the chairman’s mug.

“I’ll add it myself, thanks Conor,” Michael said as Conor brought over the sugar tub along with Michael’s coffee. “Well Conor, the season is almost over,”

“It sure is, nothing lost, nothing gained - I’m not sure what to think to be honest!” Conor laughed nervously.

“The division when I arrived was completely split in two, it’s been tough work to get the lads motivated with such a distance between the Play-Off spots and the likes of Wexford and Athlone.

“Still, I was a bit annoyed at being knocked out of the cup at the first hurdle. I know they were higher opposition but to hold onto a draw for so long only to have it taken away by penalties…”

Michael butted into what was becoming Conor’s eulogy of his own reign. “I’m going to stop you there mate, before you think too hard,” Michael smiled. “Look, we set out the targets in the interview, you set your own and you’ve done a lot to impress us for a newcomer. I came here to see if you would be interested in sticking with us next season?”

“Absolutely,” Conor said with certainty. “I mean, I know we have to discuss terms and targets but I’d be delighted - it’s been a wonderful few months.”

“That’s fantastic. We did see an upturn on your arrival compared to earlier in the season and we’d like to see that play out over the course of a full season,” Michael said, speaking brightly about McDonald’s time in charge of Cobh.

“We would be willing to maintain our expectations of you from this season, the sticking point is though: we can’t offer you a raise. Just a one-year extension onto your current deal.” Michael said, clenching his teeth together as he finished his sentence.

“Sure, I understand. Money is tight, it’s totally understandable. I’m just thankful for the opportunity to prove myself, Michael.” Conor said with a smile.

“Fantastic,” Michael stood up. “We’ll get the terms all drawn up and call an official meeting to finalise everything. In the meantime: congratulations!”

Conor stood up with a big grin - mostly made of relief - across his face as he shook Michael O’Donovan’s hand which then clasped around his mug of coffee as he finished the final drop before leaving Conor.

Scott: The worst way to go down, for sure. Not that the result mattered anyway!
Justice: Indeed, sitting 4th in the home records for the season (even before my arrival). It's been hard to motivate the players with nothing really to play for but hopefully that changes for next season.
Griffo: With the new contract approaching it certainly lays our stall out to the division for next season!
Time to plan for next season - it’ll be a big one for Conor & his Cobh folk!
A new contract and some sort of stability now for Conor. Hopefully a full season will allow him to implement his plans and build some momentum, something that wasn't all possible in the half a season he has had so far.
Good to see Conor getting what he deserves for his incredible hard work all season. Its a shame he can't get a raise, but Cobh aren't made of money, and if he's happy the way things are, it's ok!
A thoroughly deserved extension. Michael appears to be a decent boss to work under.
Fantastic news for Conor to have had his contract renewed, but it's only a matter of time before he outgrows Cobh. Just needs to get his team performing consistently, then a bigger club will come in and snap him up.

The end of the Airtricity First Division also calls for the end of Conor McDonald’s first three months at the helm at St. Colman’s Park in the 2019 season as Cobh Ramblers finished the campaign in 6th place.

The month of October began with a friendly fixture against Leeds AFC Cork in which Cobh Ramblers ran out as dominant 4-0 winners with Sean Doyle and James O’Driscoll getting one goal apiece and Brian Murphy bagging a brace.

League action resumed with Cobh facing Limerick who were in the position below. Cian Leonard scored the quickest goal of the season in the First Division with an opener after 17 seconds of play. A second goal came just two minutes later with Brian Murphy doubling Cobh’s lead in the third minute.

Lee Devitt pulled a goal back for Limerick but the two-goal lead was quickly restored with a second goal for Cobh’s Cian Leonard.

Eoin Porter made it 4-1 to Cobh Rambler’s which all but ensured three points and 6th place for Cobh. Despite Limerick’s best efforts - including a late consolation from Kieran Hanlon - they succumbed to a 4-2 loss at the hands of McDonald’s men.

Another friendly was arranged against Pearse Celtic where Cobh dominated again in a 5-1 victory with goals from O’Driscoll, Leonard (2), Porter and McSweeney all getting on the scoresheet.

Bray Wanderers were Cobh’s penultimate opponent at The Carlisle Grounds but a Derek Daly goal in the first minute of the game led to a 1-0 defeat to the side managed by Gary Cronin.

Conor McDonald finished his first season in football management with a victory thanks to Cian Leonard bagging his 12th goal of the season in all competitions.

It has been announced that Conor McDonald will be remaining as the manager of Cobh Ramblers for next season with both McDonald and the Cobh board said to be ‘delighted’ with the direction the club is headed in for next season, especially after signing the affiliate deal with Shamrock Rovers.

I’m terms of changes to the division for the 2020 campaign, Shelbourne secured automatic promotion by winning the title and returning to the top-flight for the first time since 2013.

In a hard-fought Play-Off campaign, Bray Wanderers also join Shelbourne in the top-flight next year after beating Finn Harps in the Premier League/First Division Promotion Play-Off, gaining promotion at the first time of asking.

The Play-Off result also means that Finn Harps - who knocked Cobh out of the Ford Cup 1st Round on penalties - will join University College Dublin in the second tier for the 2020 season.

Justice: It certainly will be. A good chance for a reshuffle and a fresh go at the new season and who knows? Maybe a Play-Off finish?
Seb: It would’ve been incredibly harsh to not have offered Conor a new deal given the actual situation the club was in upon his arrival. The momentum and morale of the team next season should also be improved with a few new faces!
Eoin: He’ll still have to be sticking round at a house he doesn’t own yet, definitely. But the role itself gives him the chance to build on a new budding career.
Scott: Michael has backed Conor since he walked into his interview room to be honest! He may be a little hot-headed at times but he has a good heart of loyalty to those who work for him.
James: Interesting that you see Cobh as a stopgap for Conor! A move away wouldn’t be the first thing on Conor’s mind at this moment in time but should his financial situation not change, then his choice of clubs could change.
A good overall first season for Conor. 6th place is a very respectable finish, and is something to build on next season. Maybe next season he can look fighting for promotion if the player recruitment is up to scratch.
An away win, at last! I think you have shown that you’re capable of mixing it with the top teams in the division, which should certainly act as a confidence booster ahead of next season. Promotion has to be the target, right?
Good way to end the season, hopefully you're able to strengthen the squad in the off-season to push for a playoff spot and potentially a bit of a cup run!

Cobh Ramblers confirm retained list

Cobh Ramblers have confirmed an exodus of six out-of-contract players who will not be getting new contracts in the winter as the Irish season comes to a close.

The Rams were already planning a new approach this summer with new manager Conor McDonald who arrived in July, dispensing with higher earning senior players and feeding in more prospects from the under-19s set-up and younger players from up and down the country.

First team players out of contract this summer: Paul Hunt, James O’Driscoll, Greg Henry, Brian Murphy, Stephen O’Leary.

Under-19 players out of contract this summer: Cameron Harlson.

Contract offers have been made to: Charlie Fleming, David Hurley, Matthew Lamb, Cian Leonard, Charlie Lyons, James McSweeney, Adam Mylod, Stephen O’Connor, Ben O’Riordan, Kevin Taylor, Ian Turner.

First team players already under contract next season: Michael O’Rourke, Jamie O’Sullivan, Eoin Porter.

Under-19 players already under contract next season: Tom Allen, Anthony Barry, Peter Browne, Andy Byrne, Pat Clarke, Shane Coughlan, Craig Cronin, Sean Doyle, Jason Dunne, Michael Kelly, Nathan King, Mark Lawrence, Jermaine Locklear, Paul Murphy, Matthew Murray, Tom O’Brien.

A club statement read: "We thank all the players leaving the club this summer for their efforts while with Cobh Ramblers and wish them well for the future."

Player contracts run until 30th November, so those six players set to leave will remain employees of the club until then.

Meanwhile, the scouts at St. Colman’s Park have been sent out to scour the nation to look for Conor McDonald’s 2020 recruits as he looks to improve on his first three months in charge in his first full season at the club and in football management itself.

Eoin: There really wasn't much opportunity of budging our position in an upward trajectory this season just gone! Hopefully looking up to promotion this coming season.
Justice: There are many teams of around the same level as each other so the league is going to be very unpredictable - I guess it comes down to the best manager! I'm going for an early target of Play-Offs but if the title is looking possible then certainly promotion has to be the ultimate aim.
James: Indeed! I hope there is a cup run in the future just from how much it can help with funds.

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