25th March, Stradbrook, – 7.45pm.
In the wake of Ryan McBride’s sudden passing, the Derry City captain hasn’t been far from anyone’s thoughts at Cobh Ramblers this week.
“We’re all devastated, we’re shocked” said Ramblers boss Stephen Henderson. “All we can do is send our condolonces to the McBride family, everyone involved with Derry City and the city of Derry itself.
“The League of Ireland family is there for them, and if there’s anything Cobh Ramblers can do for the McBride family or Derry City we’re there to help.
“Our lads paid tribute to Ryan at training last night (see attached photo), and it was the players themselves wanted to do that. We have a young group of players, as Derry City have, and they’re all devastated by the news. So the Ramblers squad holding his number up, it was a small gesture, but it was a genuine and meaningful one.”
Ramblers’ game against Avondale United last night was postponed as a mark of respect to McBride, as were all Tuesday’s EA Sports Cup ties, something Henderson agreed wholeheartedly with.
“It was the right thing to do, and very respectful from the FAI to postpone all the ties.
“But we put in a hard training session instead – we may be top of the table but it’s important that the lads don’t take their foot off the pedal.
“The lads were buzzing after the 5-1 win over Athlone Town and going top of the table. But we worked hard last night – the lads did three six minute miles, they certainly weren’t expecting that! But it also reminded them that being top of the table means they can’t just come up and play a few five-a-sides – if they think that they have another thing coming!”
“There’s hard work to be done, but there’s a great buzz in training as there has been all year so far. Myself, Stuart Ashton, the rest of the back room team, we’re all very fortunate to be involved with this group of lads. They want to learn, they want to put a shift in.
“We’re top of the table, albeit after four games. But being top of the table at any stage of the season isn’t an easy thing to do, so I’m looking forward to seeing how we respond to the pressure, to see if we can go on a run and stay up there.”
Henderson is expecting a very tough tie against their hosts this weekend.
“Pat Devlin’s in charge now and he’s brought in a great coaching staff, they’ve invested in good players and they already have some excellent players. It’s going to be a very good game. Pat will have them very well organised, and they’ll be very attack minded.
“They have some very experienced players in Jason Byrne, Kieran ‘Marty’ Waters and Daire Doyle, and some very good young players. So it’s going to be a tough test.”
Henderson though has concerns about the playing surface, which will be in use across the day before his side eventually play on it.
“There’s a rugby match on it in the morning, and then again in the afternoon before we play. So that might dictate how we play. We’re somewhat used to it I suppose given our own pitch hasn’t been in great nick before the work started on it, but two rugby matches before we play isn’t ideal”.
On the injury front Ian Mylod (ankle) misses out however Henderson says he’s close to a return, while Cian Kingston (hamstring) will also sit out this weekend’s game. In better news, Darren Murphy, Dean Swords and Ryan Hogan have returned to full fitness and are available for selection this weekend.
INJURY NEWS : Ian Mylod (ankle), Cian Kingston (hamstring) OUT
SUSPENSIONS : None
LEAGUE FORM (MOST RECENT FIRST) : W D W D
2016 MEETINGS : 08/10 Cobh Ramblers 3-0 Cabinteely, 05/08 Cabinteely 1-3 Cobh Ramblers, 04/06 Cobh Ramblers 2-0 Cabinteely, 08/04 Cabinteely 1-2 Cobh Ramblers