Dec 13 1997...Managerless Cobh Ramblers, who sacked Stuart Ashton on Wednesday
Dec 17 1997...
Cobh complete signing of former North keeper Key
by Noel Spillane
COBH RAMBLERS last night completed the signing of ex-Northern Ireland goalkeeper, Paul Kee from Linfield. The former Ards 'keeper who played against the Republic of Ireland in the last European Championships at Windsor Park in Belfast when Newcastle's Tommy Wright cried off injured, has been signed on a month-to-month basis.
The 26-years-old, who previously played with Oxford United, arrived in Cork last night, trained with the first team squad and looks set to make his league debut in the away First Division game with St. Francis in Dublin this weekend.
"We have signed him on a month-to-month basis for the moment but thehope is that he will settle in here and eventually move down to Cobh and stay with the club for the rest of the season," said Cobh boss Liam McMahon.
"He is out of contract at Linfield and some of my contacts in the North put me in touch with him and it's all worked out just fine. The fact that he is an International player represents a major signing for us though and I hope he stays put now," added McMahon.
The caretaker Cobh boss also feels that he has unearthed a new, raw young talent in Boston College student Richie Flemming. The 20-year-old scored on his debut in the 2-2 away draw at Longford and was promptly offered terms.
Flemming's last minute goal tied the match up to earn Ramblers a valuable point and gave McMahon a decent start to what is his fourth stint in charge of the first team.He took over from Stuart Ashton and will fill the position until such time as the club committee appoint a new manager.
"Young Flemming, whose father comes from West Cork, did very wellfor us and I think he's got the potential to be a decent player. He made the right start with a goal on his debut and he played the full 90 minutes with the MSL team as well in a goalless draw with Everton," said McMahon.
"We squandered so many chances up in Longford and we overran them in the opening 20 minutes. We missed some great chances, some good chances and some half chances and we pounded them in the second-half as well but had to wait until the last minute to snatch a point," added McMahon, who celebrates 40-years with the club in March.
"We made hard work of it but the heads never dropped and it was a good, spirited performance. I was proud of the effort and character the players," he added. McMahon said: "We have agreed terms with Paul Kee and Richie Flemming now and that's a boost for us. I have also signed Kevin Ward, the ex-Barnsley lad who played in Finland last season. He's just turned 19 as well and we have signed him to the end of the season too," he added.
*Meanwhile the club's top goal-scorer Rory O'Connor will know his fate today when he sees a specialist in relation to the knee injury he suffered in the 1-0 win over Home Farm/Everton. McMahon fears that he may have a cartilage or a medial ligament injury.
Dec 23 1997
Resurgent Cobh relish Bray showdown
by Noel Spillane
COBH Ramblers caretaker manager Liam McMahon will go with an unchanged team for the visit of division one promotion-seekers Bray Wanderers to St. Colman's Park at the weekend. Cobh beat St. Francis 3-1 in Dublin for the first time on Sunday with goals from Liam O'Connor (2) and Kevin Ward and that all makes for an eagerly-awaited post-Christmas clash with second-placed Bray at Cobh on Saturday night (k.o. 7.30pm).
"Things are beginning to fall into place for us at last and now we have lost just once in seven matches and we can't wait for the visit of Bray," said McMahon. "We have a young team here at the moment but the future is secure and I have no worries about that," added the Cobh stand-in boss.
"Players like Willie Byrne, Keith Dalton, Liam O'Connor and John Murphy impressed me greatly on Sunday and the lads took their goals really well. We have bad memories of Baldonnell over the years when they beat us in the FAI Cup, but we got some measure for that on Sunday and we fully deserved our win. It was a good result for us and it sets things up nicely now for the visit of Bray Wanderers on Saturday night," added McMahon.
Ramblers will be anxious to wipe out the bitter memory of that seven-goal hammering they suffered at Bray Wanderers at the beginning of the season, a humiliation that McMahon described last night as "the mother and father of all pastings".
"We were down to nine men at the time but Bray continued to play as if we had 11 men on the park and I think that showed how ruthless and how professional they can be."
"We learned a valuable lesson that afternoon. It was our biggest defeat yet but we will try and put things right at the weekend," said McMahon, who will look to the experience of Terry Eviston, Tony Izzi and new signing Paul Kee in goal to see them pick up the points before the First Division league season gives way to the Shield competition and the first round of the FAI Cup on the weekend of January 11.
Cobh have been drawn against Monaghan United away from home on Sunday, January 11 (k.o. 3.15) while, on the previous night, Cobh Wanderers will play Galway United at St. Colman's Park with a 7.30 kick-off.
"Paul Kee, who made his debut in goal for us up at St. Francis, looked a little ring rusty to me but he dealt very well with high crosses into the box.
"He was unlucky with the goal because the ball took a deflection and he was going the wrong way. Still he managed to change direction and get a touch to it but he just couldn't keep it out of the net," said McMahon who will face Bray with an unchanged team for the big weekend clash.
Dec 29 1997
Bray steal the points with a late, late winner from O'Brien
Cobh Ramblers 0 Bray Wanderers 1
by Conor George
KIERAN O'BRIEN turned what was an almost certain draw into glorious victory for Bray Wanderers with the most outrageous piece of larceny you have ever seen late into injury-time of a memorable first division clash at St. Colman's Park on Saturday night.
After soaking up all the pressure from a Cobh side that was playing with a passion that has been all too conspicuous in its absence at intervals during the season, Bray capitalised on a poor defensive error to race up the pitch and force a corner. Philip Keogh whipped in the corner-kick and there was O'Brien at the far post to head powerfully past former Northern Ireland player Paul Kee on what was the goalkeeper's home debut.
Cobh deserved so much more for all the possession they enjoyed over what was an exciting 90 minutes and stand-in Bray manager Martin Nugent was the first to admit that Cobh had scarcely deserved to lose all three points.
"We were lucky not to be at least a goal down at the interval because Cobh were playing very well and were creating a lot more chances. But we did have words at the break and our second-half show was a vast improvement.
"We knew it was going to be a very tough game because Cobh were determined to avenge the 7-0 win up in our place and they were coming off the back of a good result last week. But we will take three points any way we can.
"To be honest we really did steal the game from Cobh but we worked hard in the second- half and created some very good chances and this result helps keep our promotion hopes alive," said Nugent who was deputising for flu victim Pat Devlin.
For Cobh this was a very hard pill to swallow after what was possibly their best first-half performance of the season and they paid dearly for one glaring lack of concentration.
"There is nothing that I can say to make this defeat any easier because the lads really gave it their all and played very well on the night. It was just one mistake and we paid the price but it just goes to show that concentration has to be maintained for the full 90 minutes.
"I thought we looked very comfortable for a draw because our keeper was not tested once and this was a game that we were really up for. I can't fault them on any aspect of their play and we will just have to try to put this behind us," said Cobh's Liam McMahon.
COBH RAMBLERS; Kee, Kelly, D. O'Connor, Murphy, Eviston, Dalton, Ward, Coughlan, Izzi, Fleming, L. O'Connor. Sub; Roche for Eviston (inj. 65 mins).
BRAY WANDERERS; Walsh, Whelan, Gill, Lynch, McKeever, A. Smith, Kenny, O'Hanlon, K. O'Brien, Parsons, Keogh. Subs; G. Smith for Kenny (58 mins), D. O'Brien for Parsons (73 mins), G. Brien for Whelan (92 mins).
Referee: E. Barr (Dublin).
Jan 03 1998
Cobh set to interview Butterworth for vacant manager's job
COBH RAMBLERS are believed to be
all set to interview former English U-21 international Ian Butterworth
for the post of player/manager of the club.
The former Coventry City, Nottingham Forest and Norwich City defender would now appear to be the most serious challenger to Martin Allen, the ex-West Ham United midfield player for the vacant position at St. Colman's Park. Ramblers face a mouth-watering FAI Cup game against Premier League leaders St. Patrick's Athletic in the coming weeks and are also fighting to make an impression in the First Division under stand in boss Liam McMahon.
Jan 8 1998
Cobh keeps eye on Stevenage as local lad faces Newcastle
by Bill George
A GROUP of Cobh residents in Co. Cork have a special interest in travelling to see Stevenage Borough play mighty Newcastle United in the fourth round of the FA Cup on January 25. They are relatives of Darren Fenton, the former Cobh Ramblers player who is now playing in the Vauxhall Conference with Stevenage.
The 25-year-old Fenton was a substitute with the Hertfordshire club when they beat Swindon in the Cup last weekend to set up a glamour tie against Kenny Dalglish's Newcastle United. Fenton has been prevented from playing with the Stevenage first team for seven weeks while recovering from a serious knee injury that at first was thought to have been a severed cruciate ligament.
He played with Ramblers in the League of Ireland alongside Roy Keane when both players were on a Fás course in Dublin. Keane was transferred to Nottingham Forest in 1990 and Fenton remained with Ramblers until he emigrated to London in October 1993.
He joined a team called Baldock Town, based just outside London, in 1994 and he emerged as leading goal-scorer in two of his three seasons with the Essex club even though he was playing in midfield.
He was transferred to Stevenage last August and scored against Chelsea in a pre-season friendly. Sadly for him he picked up the knee injury early in the season and he has only been back in full training for the past couple of weeks.
Darren is one of five sons of Margaret and Tom Fenton of Cobh. His younger brothers Ken, Gary and Thomas also play soccer with local clubs while Ian played under-age football but no longer participates. His father is a keen GAA follower while his mother Margaret is an enthusiastic follower of soccer.
"Some of us will travel to see the Newcastle match" commented Mrs. Fenton yesterday, before adding: "but we must wait to see how many tickets he can get." Stevenage have been given permission to hold the game on their own Broadhall Way ground where temporary seating will boost the capacity from 6,600 to 8,000.
The cup tie will be televised live on Sky Sports on Sunday, January 25, kicking off at 4.30pm
Jan 19 1998
Cobh boss plans to beat deadline
by Noel Spillane
COBH RAMBLERS manager Ian Butterworth is planning a double swoop to beat Thursday's transfer deadline. The former Norwich star had talks with ex-Cork City and Avondale United striker Damien O'Connell in Cobh last night with a view to signing the 21-year old.
O'Connell left Cork City a few months ago to return to Munster Senior League side Avondale United. Drogheda United's Martin Lawlor tried to coax the gangling striker back into League of Ireland football two months ago but without success but Butterworth stands a far better chance of getting his man. The new Cobh boss is also in preliminary talks with a Glasgow-based player but there has been no definite news yet.
"I need to boost my squad for the up-coming Shield games and, of course, for our big FAI Cup clash with St. Patrick's Athletic. The transfer deadline is Thursday so we don't have too much time on our side but I'm confident of getting in one or two new faces to bolster the squad," said Butterworth. He will make his home debut in the Shield match against Galway United on Saturday night (k.o. 7.30) as Cobh bid to top the Southern Section and make the play-off stages.
"I played alongside John Murphy at centre-half the other night and enjoyed the match. I like playing back there because it gives me a good view of what's happening up the pitch and I'll pick myself there at the weekend.
"There have been no reported injuries after the Bray match and I think we should be at full strength for Saturday night. I might well go with an unchanged team because, to be fair, winning is a nice habit to have and we've been doing nicely on the score so far," added Butterworth.
13 Feb 1998
Cobh a point away from place in first national final
by Noel Spillane
COBH RAMBLERS skipper, Johnny Murphy, and new player-manager, Ian Butterworth, want to share a dream this season. That is for Cobh Ramblers to compete in their first ever national final
— the First Division Shield final — and go on and win the trophy. Cobh are just a point away from clinching part one of the dream, when they face Waterford United away tonight at the Waterford Regional Sports Centre (ko 7.45pm). However, they have the pre-match boost of knowing that six of the Blues established players are out of the team.
Player-manager, Tommy Lynch; Mark Reid and John Lacey are all suspended as they close out two-match bans, but midfield ace Jason Bowman is stuck in England with work commitments and won't make the kick-off. Padraig Dully (heel) and Paul Carr (hamstring) are sidelined as well, so the Blues will have a minimum of six changes in their line-up.
"I know a point will do Cobh tonight and they might well get it down here. We have treated the first two games in a very light-hearted way and, to be honest, our league game with Bray Wanderers the following week is far more important to us," said Tommy Lynch.
"Promotion to the top flight is the key to our season and, while Cobh might have left it a little late on that score, I know they would like to win the Shield final. It looks like Athlone Town or Longford Town will come out of the Northern section, in what will be a two-legged, home and away final," he added.
"We will not be at full-strength tonight, but that's not to say that we will lie down and die. We have a few young guns coming into the side and I am sure they will want to impress me," said Lynch, whose side will be back to full power for the big test with Bray, as the First Division title race resumes next week.
Cobh skipper, John Murphy explained the Cobh interest in the Shield: "We got a taste of what it's like to play the big boys in the Cup last week, when St Pat's came down to Cobh and we want more of the same. I know winning the Shield will not get us promoted, but it's a step in the right direction towards next season.
"Ian Butterworth has had a big impact in a short space of time here and he has everyone pulling together. We all want to win promotion, but we might have to wait a few more months to achieve that," he added.
Butterworth goes into tonight's clash with an injury-free and suspension-free squad and he has added young Keith Espey to the 15-man travelling party.
"We have Willie Byrne available, but then he starts a two-match ban and will miss the games against Athlone Town and Waterford again in the league. Tommy Cregoe is on the mend, though, and he can come in as cover for any one of the back four positions," said Butterworth.
"We are playing for a place in the club's first ever national final and that's got to mean something to the players. I want us to win down there tonight and go on and win the trophy."
"It's a bigger game tonight for us than the St Pat's match and this is another Cup final for us. I want to enhance the image and reputation of the club and this is one avenue we have to go down to try and achieve that goal," said Butterworth who has agreed to an 18-month contract at St Colman's Park.
18 Feb 1998
Meanwhile, Cobh Ramblers are in action against Limerick at Rathbane this afternoon (k.o. 3.30) and player-manager Ian Butterworth has a full strength squad making the trip. Willie Byrne is back after suspension, Keith Dalton and Liam O'Connor have recovered from injuries and 'flu victim Keith Espey has been passed fit to play as well.
The club's one lingering injury doubt is Damien O'Connell, who has an ankle injury as the Shield finalists gear up for Tuesday's second leg return at Cobh against Home Farm/Everton. The Dubliners come south with a 3-1 first leg advantage and Cobh will have to be at their best to overhaul this deficit.
"Two bad mistakes cost us dearly in the first leg but I think we are still in with a shout," said Butterworth. "We gifted them the early goals and they were two-nil up inside the opening ten minutes.
"I think we can still recover the two-goal deficit but the next goal in the tie is crucial to both teams.
"If we score early on it makes it 3-2 overall and we are back in it but if they go 4-1 up then that's the end of it.
"To be honest, we shot ourselves in the foot up there, our game plan went out of the window inside the first ten minutes and now we have to try and salvage the situation on Tuesday afternoon," he added.
"We have lost our last two games now and need to stop the rot," added the Ramblers player-boss.
27 Mar 1998
Comments by Keely are used to spur Ramblers
Home Farm/Everton 0
Cobh Ramblers 1
COBH RAMBLERS' player-manager, Ian Butterworth, used his opposite number Dermot Keely's dismissive programme notes to motivate his players on a successful return visit to Whitehall by Ramblers on Saturday night. Cobh received some pay-back for their Shield final defeat to Farm by winning 1-0.
"I used their manager's programme comments to fire up my lads, and it worked a treat," said Butterworth afterwards.
"It was a good three points for us as we certainly showed our mettle.
"However, it was a typical end-of-season game, though I must say I am pleased with our good progress. Since Christmas we've struck much better form in the league.
"The only goal came 10 minutes into the second-half and was simplicity itself.
"Paul Coughlan was left unmarked and Rosewell to head home Liam O'Connor's corner."
HOME FARM/EVERTON: Whelan, Gifford, McGauley, Maher, Ferguson, Byrne, Doyle, Davis, Moore, Heary, Gill. Sub: Farrell for Moore (59 mins).
COBH RAMBLERS: Kee, Kelly, Byrne, Murphy, D. O'Connor, Butterworth, Coughlan, Dalton, Izzi, Fleming, L. O'Connor.
Referee: M. O'Brien (Clare).
08 Apr 1998
Cobh fail to in-form Dublin side
Cobh Ramblers 1
St. Francis 3
COBH manager Ian Butterworth once again decided to experiment with his side, and watched his charges slump to a 3-1 defeat at St. Colman's Park on Saturday night.
Butterworth had listed himself among the substitutes for the clash, but elected to view proceedings from the dug-out, as he continued to evaluate his players so as to decide just what changes are needed during the close season.
Tommy Cregoe started just his second game since sustaining an injury over the Christmas period, while Willie Byrne once again played on the left wing until being replaced after 20 minutes by Kevin Ward after shipping a knock.
By virtue of this thoroughly deserved win, St. Francis can savethemselves having to seek re-election and, judging by their performance, the first division will be all the better for their involvement next season.
They took the lead after five minutes when Paul Lally delicately side-footed Tony Marshall's free-kick over the head of Paul Kee to set the home side rocking on their heels. In fairness to Cobh, they bounced back through a Tony Izzi free-kick after 25 minutes, but former Rambler's player, Gary O'Sullivan, restored the Dubliner's lead to allow his side to turn over with a 2-1 advantage.
Cobh never really threatened for the second half and, with seven minutes remaining, St. Francis secured the points through Colm Talbot from close range.
COBH RAMBLERS; Kee, Espey, D. O'Connor, Murphy, Cregoe, L. O'Connor, Dalton, Roche, Byrne, Izzi, Coughlan. Subs; Ward for Byrne (inj. 20 mins), O'Connell for Roche (85 mins).
ST. FRANCIS; Corcoran, Marshall, Berry, Duffy, Rickard, Geoghegan, Sheridan, Heffernan, Lally, O'Sullivan, Talbot. Subs; Gormley for Sheridan (55 mins).
Referee; J. O'Neill (Waterford).
18 Apr 1998
Cobh share spoils with Bray
Bray Wanderers 0
Cobh Ramblers 0
COBH Ramblers forced promotion chasing Bray to put the champagne back on ice until Tuesday at least as they frustrated Pat Devlin's men in a scoreless draw at the Carlisle Grounds last night.
A win would have all but confirmed Bray's return to the Premier Division but that must now wait until they meet Monaghan at home on Tuesday.
Despite winning five corners to Bray's two in the first half, Cobh failed to get a shot on target in a drab opening 45 minutes. Ramblers' only half chance fell to Damien O'Connell who shot wide from Tommy Cregoe's corner on 32 minutes. Otherwise Bray dominated but they lacked a cutting edge in front of goal with strikers Richie Parsons and Kieran O'Brien off form. O'Brien fluffed a great opening after just eight minutes when shooting wide after Alan Dodd had dispossessed David O'Connor.
In the second half Cobh had a glorious chance to take the lead within seven minutes but Liam O'Connor shot inches over the top. But Bray then turned on the pressure. Paul Kee had to save well from Alan Smyth's header following a Ray Kenny corner.
The woodwork then twice came to Cobh's rescue late on to deprive O'Brien. On 76 minutes a Robbie Coyle corner was knocked back across goal by Dodd and O'Brien headed against the crossbar. Two minutes later O'Brien hit a 25-yard drive off Kee's left hand upright.
Cobh then might have grabbed a win ten minutes from time, but Kevin Ward shot over John Walsh's crossbar with a well struck shot out of nothing from 20 yards.
BRAY WANDERERS: Walsh, O'Hanlon, McKeever, Lynch, Gill, Kenny, Dodd, Smyth, Keogh, K. O'Brien, Parsons. Subs. Coyle for Keogh (58 mins), P. O'Brien for Kenny (68 mins), Smith for Parsons (78 mins).
COBH RAMBLERS: Kee, Espey, D. O'Connor, Butterworth, Murphy, Ward, L. O'Connor, Dalton, Cregoe, Izzi, O'Connell.
Referee: Mr. J. O'Byrne (Dublin).