IT’S been a whirlwind couple of months for Drogheda United, but veteran striker Declan ‘Fabio’ O’Brien is confident that his side have put that all behind them as they focus on the season ahead and try to better their league position from last year.
Drogheda United have had their in’s and out’s but there is none more notable than in the managerial hot-seat where Robbie Horgan has taken over from his former boss, Mick Cooke. Speaking to Extratime.ie, O’Brien was confident that the Louth side are in good hands.
“You have to give credit to Robbie Horgan for the way he has come in and done things and with our start.”
O’Brien was also keen to pay credit to his former boss who he feels is the best man to get Athlone to stay up.
“Look, Mick Cooke is quality. The fella done fantastic for Drogheda and all the lads were sad to see him go.”
Drogheda started the 2014 season with a resounding win over near rivals Dundalk but that wasn’t a sign of things to come for his former club as he reckons they are probably going to be the strongest side in the league this year who could have “battered” Drogheda too if they had given them the chance.
“Definitely think they would be. Look anything can happen on the first day of the season and it could easily have gone the other way for us and we could have lost four nothing.
“Credit to our lads who held firm against them and of course we got the four goals which was the difference in the end.
“We know though what has to be done in this league with the strength of the teams that we will be coming up against” O’Brien added.
Towards the end of last season it was entirely different matters that were dominating the team, after a season of three cup final losses, with the news that friend and team mate Gary O’Neill was found to have cancer.
“We didn’t know how serious it was so definitely it was a shock to the system that this happened to Gary and really put it all into perspective for us after the season that we had.
“Gary has a young family, and I do, like many others. So it all made us think about the future and making sure that we are there.”
Though O’Neill was diagnosed with testicular cancer towards the end of last season the striker looks to have recovered and was awarded the SWAI Player of the Month award for March – something which O’Brien is delighted about.
“Gary is a quality player and we are going to need him this season with so many big games but we will all need to front up and deliver, not just one man if we want to achieve things.”
Declan ‘Fabio’ O’Brien though has a rather unique background and hobby outside the day job as a footballer with his job as a gym instructor and also being a member of the Garda reserves.
“Yeah I’m involved with them now and it’s good, really enjoyable, it’s been good to have that outlet with also being involved in Drogheda.
“With the gym it’s funny because a certain amount of the younger players would be coming into the gym during the week so I would get to interact with them quite regularly.”
With Friday’s visit to pace setters Cork City, the league is becoming that little bit more interesting but O’Brien is very positive in his outlook. His feeling that the squad has gotten better and is capable of finishing high up the table is quite evident in how O’Brien comes across.
Drogheda United reached the EA Sports Cup, the FAI Cup Final and the Setanta Sports Cup final last season, something which upon reflection didn’t help their cause in the league.
“Make no mistake about it we want to improve our league position and get further up.
“I think in a little way our run in the cup hampered our position in the league but it’s gone now and now we know what we want.”
Drogheda finished 8th in the league which, especially with a budget like theirs is pretty admirable, O’Brien doesn’t see it that way though.
“We have the squad to push on and go for a top position; there is no point in aiming any lower.”