A point away to Longford will prove priceless come the end of the season - Cian Leonard

Fri, Mar 02 2018

St Colman's Park Credit: Steve Alfred

Cian Leonard is arguably one of the most exciting attacking talents that the First Division has to offer at only 18 years of age.

After popping up with an invaluable equaliser away to Longford Town on the opening day of the SSE Airtricity League First Division campaign, the Cobh Ramblers hitman Cian spoke exclusively to extratime.ie after his heroics in the City Calling Stadium.

Having fallen behind thanks to two goals before the half-time interval, Leonard admitted that his sides first half showing was nowhere near good enough.

“Obviously in the 1st half we went two-nil down and it wasn’t good enough. We could see that ourselves even. There wasn’t really heart and as you would kind of expect we got a bit of a giving out to at half-time because we weren’t matching them in intensity and work-rate.”

Having received a bit of a kick up the backside at the half time break, Cobh re-emerged as a new team, which hustled and harried a Longford Town back four into numerous mistakes which in turn secured “a priceless” away point for the “Rams”

“From then, you could tell it was a lot more hectic and we were challenging for everything. We were getting to the second balls and obviously to get the equaliser was great for the team but even as a striker, a number nine, it was even better to get the goal because to get off the mark in the first game of the season is what every striker wants you know.

“At the end of the day, a point away to Longford – who are a strong side this year – will prove priceless come the end of the season so all in all the game worked out pretty well.”

With all this weekend’s round of fixtures falling foul to the latest bad weather to grip the country, the 18-year-old has said that it is frustrating having to wait another two weeks to kick off the Rams home campaign at St Colman’s Park.

“We were training Monday night and then training got cancelled Wednesday night because of this weather being so bad. On Monday night in training we were talking about it (Game vs Galway) and we were so excited with all the talk over social media about getting back to St Colman’s Park.

“It’s great to play down there for the fans and it is frustrating because now we’re just after taking a pause with the training and you’re losing you’re rhythm and after the ending to last week’s game we felt as if we had such good momentum and we’d thought going into the Galway game we had a great chance to come out with a win as we’d always expect at home. It is frustrating, but we just need to get on with it and get back into training next week for our next game.”

With the 2018 First Division shaping up to be the most competitive First Division in recent memory, the 18-year-old Corkonian has noticed the step-up in quality compared to last year’s campaign where Ramblers came close to eclipsing eventual champions Waterford at the top of the table.

“Yeah look we played Longford last week and compared to last year, there’s such a huge difference with them. Obviously, I scored last year as well but there was a big difference. From what I’ve seen in pre-season as well it’s so much more physical and there’s much better-quality football being played and the strength in depth for all the teams is there as well, not just in the starting eleven.

“Obviously with the three teams coming down from the Premier as well it makes things much harder but the new format with the second, third and fourth place going out to fight for promotion, I think that’s the big one because everyone will be fighting for promotion and it’s actually a good watch if you watched our game with Longford in the second half and it’s very competitive.”

After making his senior League of Ireland debut in July of 2017 for Cobh Ramblers’ away trip to Wexford at Ferrycarrig Park, Leonard has heaped praise on Cobh boss Stephen Henderson for the way in which he commands his dressing-room at St Colman’s Park.

“When I first came in, I was kind of like, I don’t really know but I was thrown straight into the deep end and I heard stuff like senior managers are supposed to be very aggressive and all, very hard on you but “Hendo”, he has a different approach to most managers.

“He has a laugh and he doesn’t give out as much which creates a good relationship and that’s how I think he gets the most out of his players because I don’t know if you’ve seen with Cobh, everyone fights for the team rather than plays for themselves if you get me.

“He has good relationship and understanding with his team and he releases players if he doesn’t feel as if they’re doing it for the team and in my opinion that makes him a great manager.”

Looking ahead to next week’s game against Cabinteely at Stradbrook, Leonard said that he is anticipating a tough challenge away to a physical Cabinteely outfit in the capital as Hendo’s Army look to secure a vital three points away from home

“Cabinteely will be a strong side, they’ll be physical. They’re a Dublin side and they’re always good you know. I reckon away from home is always going to be hard in this league no matter who you play, top team or the bottom team but as we always say going every game with Cobh like, we’re striving for promotion, looking for a top four spot if even. It’s tough to get there, but we’ll be looking to get the maximum points from each game if possible.”