Five-star Cobh Ramblers made a winning start on their League of Ireland return with a 5-0 demolition of Wexford Youths on Saturday night.
There was a great deal of talk pre-game about the home side in what was their first season back in League of Ireland football since they were demoted in 2009, and Ramblers certainly delivered a performance worthy of the occasion.
Dave Hill’s side were simply superior to their more established First Division visitors. They showed ruthless efficiency in front of goal, as well as putting in a real tenacious, hard-working all-round performance. Should Cobh keep the intensity showed on Saturday night up, they will achieve a lot more than mere consolidation.
Davin O’Neill, making his second bow for his first club after re-joining from Cork City this season, tested the goalkeeper first on 11 minutes with a driven free-kick from long range.
The Rams had the lead just four minutes later. The outstanding Martin Deady danced down the left wing, before cutting it back to Conor Meade who slotted past the Youths goalkeeper for his and his team’s first of the evening.
Youths came close soon after with Glen Hawe rattling the post after latching on to a ball over the top, but that one chance was the closest the away side got to getting their names on the score sheet for the entire 90 minutes.
In the 15 minutes leading up to half-time, Ramblers put the tie to bed. First, Martin Deady whipped in a corner kick that saw Alan O’Flynn rise highest to steer his header into the back of the net and double the home advantage.
Then, Deady was a key figure once again, except this time the creator turned finisher. The fleet-footed wide man set off on what is fast becoming a trademark mazy run, before showing glacial composure to calmly stroke the ball into the back of the net.
Finally, a calamitous error from Wexford Youths’ keeper Graham Doyle summed up his team’s defensive efforts for the evening. The net-minder attempted to clear the ball after it being passed back to him by a colleague, but the vulture-like Conor Meade had charged in front quick enough to close down the keeper, and see the ball ricochet off him and into the goal.
The second half was very much a non-event – both teams had accepted the inevitable outcome, Cobh understandably more happily than their visitors, and they were now just going through the motions, waiting for the full time whistle so they could savour victory and analyse defeat.
The torrential downpour had greatly affected the flow of the game, and what had been an enjoyable first half turned into a scrappy second period. Chances were few and far between, although Ramblers did seize the opportunity to mark the second half with a fifth goal.
Martin Deady rounded off a superb individual performance with a delicious little through ball, that substitute Jonathan Spillane happily seized upon and sent rustling into the net, to send the packed support into jubilation.
Cobh Ramblers: Robert Birdsall; Ian Long, Gary Collins, Brian Fitzgerald, John Meade; Martin Deady, Andrew Bhandarkar, Michael O’Shea, Alan O’Flynn; Davin O’Neill (Jonathan Spillane, 81), Conor Meade (Kynam Rocks, 83)
Subs not used: Keith O’Flynn, Roy Kenny, James Carson, Shane Hallahan.
Bookings: Conor Meade (10), Robert Birdsall (27), John Meade (53).
Wexford Youths: Graham Doyle; Shane Clarke (Craig McCabe, 57), Tomas Croke, Jamie Carr, Shaun Corcoran; Joe Mulcahy, Brian Nolan, Eric Molloy (Shane Nolan, 57), Dean Broaders; Glen Hawe, Aidan Keenan
Subs not used: Brandon O’Callaghan (GK), Gary Delaney, James Darmondy, Daryl Power, CJ Browne.
Bookings: Eric Molloy (56), Tomas Croke (92).
Referee: James McKell
Attendance: 800 (estimate).
ExtraTime.ie Man of the Match: Martin Deady (Cobh Ramblers).