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Conor McDonald: The Student

Started on 18 April 2020 by Jack
Latest Reply on 10 August 2022 by JodydollIver63
A strong start to the season here. Hopefully you can kick on from here and show how good this team can be in the league
Jack's avatar Group Jack
3 yearsEdited

The month of March could potentially be considered a turning point for Conor McDonald’s men as his side stormed to the top of the Airtricity First Division as Cobh continued their unbeaten run in the 2020 season.

Fresh off the back of an 8-0 thrashing against Mallow United in the Senior Munster Cup Quarter-Final, The Rams looked a little rusty when they showed up to Wexford’s Ferrycarrig Park for the first game of the month. The game finished a scoreless draw with Bogdanov and Moore failing to add to their goalscoring tally.

This was quickly remedied with a fascinating 4-1 victory over preseason title favourites Drogheda United. Cameron Moore was the hero in this game with a spellbinding hat-trick performance. Cobh were already 4-0 up against their opponents by the time Greg Moorhouse pegged one goal back for Drogheda, by which time it was far too late to attempt any form of comeback.

Completing a fantastic week for the club, Cobh returned to action on Monday against Cabinteely with a 2-1 win thanks to a Danila Bogdanov brace which secured them seven points out of a possible nine.

A friendly was arranged to fill the eleven day gap between Cobh’s league fixtures. McDonald’s team faced Ulster Senior Division side Midleton and he filled his side with players from his Under-19 side such as Jason Dunne, Michael Kelly, Matthew Murray and Tom Allen. His side ran out as 3-1 winners due to another Cameron Moore hat-trick which prepared Cobh for their big game against University College Dublin.

Cobh Ramblers and University College Dublin were level on points before the game on 20th March with Cobh only ahead due to a two goal advantage on the goal difference chart.

Conor McDonald managed Cobh to a huge 1-0 win over their early-season title rivals with Shamrock Rovers loanee netting in the 85th minute to secure all three points, much to the delight of the travelling fans.

From one recently relegated opponent to the next, Cobh’s final opponents in March were Finn Harps who have been struggling to adapt to life out of the top-flight. This was taken advantage of by McDonald who led his side to a fourth straight league win, coming out as 3-1 winners after goals from Ian Turner, Danila Bogdanov and Paul Fox.

With University College Dublin losing a second game in a row following their defeat to Cobh Ramblers, they have fallen six points behind the league leaders who must be feeling very happy with themselves for their performance so far this campaign after a large recruitment campaign by the manager.

Cameron Moore still leads the goalscoring charts in the First Division with a goal scored every ninety minutes.

Upcoming Fixtures:
Limerick (H) - League
Longford Town (A) - League
Athlone Town (A) - League
Unknown (?) - EA Sports Cup 2nd Round
Wexford (H) - League
Cork City (A) - Munster Senior Cup Semi-Final

Eoin: The amazing start continues into March!
Seb: Away games certainly don't seem to be much of an issue anymore, the team seem comfortable playing anywhere after the revamp. I would say the promotion push is definitely on now, even if there are 20 games to go.
tedbro20: This start feels great and it fills me and the team with confidence to keep the run going and maybe even advance in the cup competitions!
Another couple of months like that and it’ll be lights out for the rest of the league! Well on your way to the top flight with that form!
Starting to build a nice wee lead at the top of the table there
Beautiful start from the lads!
Fantastic start to the season! Haven't seen many of your signings before, so will be watching with intrigue :)
Cobh are out of the gates early... my word!
What a start! Moore has been great so far this season, not quite Jacobs level but certainly impressive!

Conor McDonald: The Unexpected Prodigy

Cobh Ramblers can hardly be discussed as a so-called ‘sleeping giant’ in Ireland. The club have spent only four out of their 35 years as part of the League of Ireland in the top-flight - their relegation in 2008 being their last appearance.

The club draw in one of the lowest average attendances in the second tier with a mean of 345 fans turning up to their home fixtures at the 6,000-capacity St. Colman’s Park which is hardly the crowds that big clubs usually receive.

However, under Conor McDonald the Rams are flying high in the top spot of the Airtricity First Division, leading by six points with a game in hand over recently relegated University College Dublin in 2nd place.

McDonald, born in Liverpool to Irish and Northern Irish parents, took over the club shortly after finishing university at UCFB’s Turf Moor campus, leaving his role as Under-23s coach at Tranmere Rovers to take the first-team managerial role in East Cork.

Cobh were in sixth place when chairman Michael O’Donovan hired the 22-year-old. The club were many points adrift of teams above or below them and McDonald’s appointment was subject to ridicule by the local press and fans alike, claiming that a recent graduate was O’Donovan’s way of saying that he has no idea how to run a football club properly.

McDonald’s first month began with him winning the Manager of the Month award after two consecutive wins against Limerick and Athlone Town despite the signature of 20-year-old attacking midfielder Eoin Porter on a free transfer being his only adjustment to the way the club was being run.

McDonald’s first three months in charge led to Cobh Ramblers winning six out of ten league games and a Ford Cup knockout on penalties to then-Premier League outfit Finn Harps. The Rams finished in sixth place, having not moved league position since their new manager’s arrival.

Since then, McDonald has demanded a link-up between his club and a top-flight side in order to add quality without the expense of transfer fees, wages or signing on fees. This led to the clubs partnership with 2019 Irish Premier League runners-up Shamrock Rovers.

Off the back of this partnership, Cobh received €13,500 as an annual fee from their parent club as well as three loan players in Danila Bogdanov, Alex Dunne and Thomas McDermott as well as a permanent signing on a free transfer with left-back Eric Abulu to join their thirteen other January recruits for the 2020 season.

Whilst all of the attention from Irish football fans revolves around the English Premier League and Championship as well as the Irish Premier League, Conor McDonald seems to be putting Cobh Ramblers under the knife, injecting the small Cork side with youth and infrastructure which could see the club rise into the top-flight and see them stay there with even the possibility of European football in the not-so-distant future.

Justice: It's been a super start! So proud of the lads.
tedbro20: That win against UCD really pushed us further :)
Scott: Up The Ramblers!
James: I'll be doing a review of the side that hopefully wins promotion at the end of the season ;)
Griffo: Storming down the track! :P
Seb: I didn't quite expect Moore to be the starlet that he is but he is really paying off and pushing himself way ahead in the pecking order!
ScottT's avatar Group ScottT
3 yearsEdited
A tidily-written post. Cobh have certainly been revitalised under McDonald's management and the infrastructure of the club appears to look very secure with such an impetus on young talents that can only improve with the faith shown in them by their manager.
An uprising in the Rebel County is certainly just beginning! Conor has Cobh going in the right direction, and he is proving to be a steady captain.

Cobh Ramblers’ scintillating start to the season has continued as Conor McDonald’s team progresses towards the midpoint of the Irish season without a single league loss.

The month began with a 5-0 thrashing of Limerick at St. Colman’s Park.

Left-midfielder Paul Fox got Cobh off to a late start with a 44th minute opener, just before half-time but even the sternest of team talks from Limerick boss Tommy Barrett could stop McDonald’s men from turning into the domination that it became in the second half.

Eoin Porter bagged his side’s second in the 50th minute before Cobh went on to score three goals in three minutes. Ian Turner scored a brace with one coming from the penalty spot before Eoin Porter completed his own brace in the 74th minute to make it 5-0.

The goalfest of the first week was not replicated the next Friday against Longford Town, though, as Cobh could not manage to get all three points against the team that sat in 4th place.

Jamie Doyle put Conor McDonald’s unbeaten streak into doubt with a goal in the 68th minute, however, the streak was maintained with a late equaliser from Ian Turner just two minutes before full-time to ensure that Cobh dropped two points rather than three.

The Rams’ final league game of the month was against second-bottom strugglers Athlone Town who had only recorded seven points at the time of the fixture at Athlone Town Stadium.

Athlone put up a good fight against the league leaders, pegging them back both times at 1-0 and 2-1 but Danila Bogdanov’s goal in the 54th minute proved to be the winner to secure all three points to take back to East Cork.

The final two fixtures for Cobh Ramblers in April were against the same opponent - Premier League and local rivals Cork City.

Cobh entered the EA Sports Cup in the 2nd Round and finally ran out winners against their rivals in a 1-0 victory thanks to an early Cameron Moore goal. This helped Cobh’s qualification into the quarter-finals and will play against St. Patrick’s Athletic next month.

The second cup fixture against Cork City came in the Senior Munster Cup Semi-Final, where Cobh beat Mallow United 8-0 to get to.

The ninety minutes ended in a scoreless draw, leading to penalties to decide the outcome of who would be reaching the final. Ian Turner missed his first penalty and Danila Bogdanov missed the decisive penalty as Cork City slotted every penalty they had past the helpless Alan O’Sullivan as they went on to win 4-2 on penalties.

At the end of April, Cobh still lead the way in the Airtricity First Division by six five points over University College Dublin with a game in hand on every team in the division apart from rock-bottom Wexford who are struggling for the second season in a row now. In the goalscoring charts, Drogheda’s Greg Moorhouse has overtaken Cobh’s Cameron Moore by two goals.

Scott: I'd have liked to think McDonald is more potent than impotent ;) There has been a lot of progress in the past 12 months or so and it's realised more put into one post.
Justice: Premier League, here we come :P
There's a gap starting to open up there. If you widen that in the next set of matches, you can begin prepare for next season in the top flight.
Best start looking for players capable of playing in the Premier Division mate ;) should be a fair few Irish/Northern Irish youngsters being released by English clubs too
Still all going well and the league is certainly yours to lose now. Could we see you in the top division next season or even another job able to tempt you away

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