Cobh Wanderers Football Club

History

Starting off with no home and little facilities to what is now a top class pitch and magnificent dressing rooms at Old Church Park has indeed been a great achievement. The club is now catering for up to 50 players and also has close ties with the schoolboys and youth sections in the town.

The club was founded in 1981 when a number of Cobh based players who were playing with College Corinthians decided to form their own local team. The name Cobh Wanderers was taken from the Cove Wanderers club which existed from the mid 1920’s to the 1940’s.That clubs colours of black and amber were also adopted as the colours of the new club.

The first A.G.M. was held on 22.6.1981 in the Rinn Ronain Hotel, Rushbrooke.The first Committee elected was:

Chairman: Kevin Moynihan. Secretary: Andrew O’Reilly. Treasurer: Noel Keane Committee: Milo O’Shea, Vincy Keating, Paddy Horgan.

The main aims of the club were to (A) Purchase its own playing pitch (B) To gain Senior status.

The team entered the 1st Division of the Cork A.U.L. Junior League. Home games in the early days were played in Whitegate, near Midleton, and later the club was lucky enough to have the use of the Cobh V.E.C’s excellent pitch and dressing rooms. A floodlighting system was installed a few seasons back and has since been upgraded.

The first few seasons did not yield any material success in terms of silverware but the groundwork was being laid for future achievements. Under the dedicated manager Noel Keane, whose name became synonymous with the Wanderers, the team improved season by season until the first trophy was won 1n 1985/1986, the AUL 1st Division Championship. Wanderers triumphed after a very hard fought battle with main rivals Ballyvolane. The next few seasons at a higher level did not bring any further success but in 1989 the cherished ambition of Senior status was achieved when the club was invited to join the inaugural AUL Intermediate League.

This first season proved to be very successful .Wanderers won the first ever trophy at this level by beating Ballincollig to win the AUL Intermediate Shield with a winning goal from Mossy Mahony. The team also had a tremendous run in the F.A.I. Intermediate Cup which included a thrilling victory in Donegal over Swilly Rovers. That win also meant the club qualified for the F.A.I.Cup proper for the first time. Ballina Town were our next opponents and after two trips to Ballina, the first match being postponed at the eleventh hour, a semi final place was secured with a 2-1 victory in a game played at St Colman’s Park.

Sadly despite a great team performance in the semi final against Ballyfermot Utd and a great goal from a much missed club member player John Murphy (RIP) a 1-2 defeat was the outcome. In the F.A.I. Senior Cup a very experienced Limerick City team had a 2-0 win in a game again played at St Colman’s Park. The result was of course disappointing but to be competing in such important games after less than ten years in existence was a fantastic achievement by manager Noel Keane and his players.

The following season 1990/1991 proved to be an even more successful season for the club. An invitation to join the Munster Senior League 1st Division was accepted and promotion was gained in this first season after finishing runners up to our harbour neighbours Crosshaven. The prestigious Beamish Senior Cup was also won with a historic 2-0 victory over League of Ireland side Cork City at Turners Cross.

The following season 1991/1992 the club felt the need to form a second team because of the amount of players that were interested in playing for the club. The second team entered the Munster Junior League under manager and founding member Paddy O’Connor. The senior side found the Premier Division to be a big step up in standard and struggled but, avoided relegation with a play-off victory over Mallow Utd.

The next few seasons proved to be very inconsistent for both teams. The Senior side were relegated in 1992/1993 but were worthy 1st Division Champions in 1994/1995 under manager Paddy O’Connor. Unfortunately relegation followed again after a poor season at the top level. The Junior side continued to have good seasons but always managed to just miss out on promotion.

However the club was about to make probably the most significant move in its history in 1995 with the purchase of five acres of land in the Ticknock area with a view to developing a high quality playing pitch and dressing room facilities. This was a very big undertaking for the club but thanks to the local community which supported our various fundraising efforts over the years and the tremendous work done by all our members from the start it was felt the time was right to take the plunge and purchase our own pitch. The next problem was to raise the finance to develop the land. This development was eventually begun in May 1997 by a combination of club funds, bank loans and also money secured from the National Lottery.

Former player Donal Collins was the mainstay behind the development work along with our main contractor. He put in time and effort beyond the call of duty and the magnificent pitch we have today is due in no small part to both his efforts and the work of our own club members.

Back on the playing side the club made another significant move with the appointment of George Mellerick as Senior Team Manager in 1996. It was hoped that a person with his great experience at League of Ireland level could help the club step up to another level and that certainly proved to be a correct decision. He attracted quality players to the club, especially young local players, and also ensured a professional attitude was adopted in all aspects of the clubs work.

In 1996/1997 the senior side had a great run in the Munster Senior Cup reaching the final for the first time in the clubs history and suffered a 0-2 defeat to League of Ireland side Cork City at Turners Cross.

The following season the FAI Senior Cup was reached for only the second time but Galway Utd proved to be too strong and ran out 2-0 winners. After a couple of near misses the 1st Division Championship was won in 1998/1999.

1999/2000 proved to be a very unlucky year as both the Beamish Cup and the O’Connell Cup were lost at the final stage. However finishing runners up to a very good Rockmount in our first season back in the Premier Division was a great testimony to the skill and hard work of the players and manager alike. This feat was repeated in 2000/2001 when a draw on the final day against College Corinthians instead of the necessary win again deprived us of the title.

An unwanted but nonetheless worthy hat trick was achieved in 2001/2002 when we again finished runners up to a very good Rockmount side.

The 2003/2004 season proved less successful and the seniors could only finish 8th after their previous brilliant seasons. A good run in the Munster Senior Cup was ended by local rivals Cobh Ramblers.

The Junior side having been overshadowed by the seniors for so long had a magnificent season in 2000/2001 winning the 1st Division Championship under manager Jamie Cullimore. A feature of the successful season was the breaking of the club goal scoring record by Jason Cronin with 30 goals, a record previously held by Joe Stack and Mick Lynch on 28 goals. The following season a very creditable 3rd position was achieved at the higher Premiership level.

At the start of the 2003/2004 season the club was thrown in to turmoil when the Senior team had to withdraw from the MSL .Manager George Mellerick decided to take a break from the game and a number of players decided to try their luck elsewhere making it impossible to field anything like a strong enough side for the premier division. This was a very sad day for the club after all the hard work over the years to achieve Senior status and then to do so well at that level. This was not that uncommon a problem with other clubs also at that time as it was proving harder and harder to attract players against the easy option of Night owl football and saturation TV coverage of football from all over the world. The Junior team managed to carry on valiantly under manager Mossy Mahony. The highlight of the season was reaching the semi final of the League Cup before losing to Ringmahon Rangers.

The senior team re-entered the MSL the following season 2004/2005 but at the lower level under manager Mossy Mahony. Trying to field two competitive teams was still proving difficult and the Junior team suffered the consequences by being relegated that season.

This current season the Senior team was taken over by the very experienced Barry McGovern who assembled a number of young and talented players which it is hoped will stay together over the coming years. Unfortunately Barry resigned later in the season and the reliable Ken Sisk took control to guide the Seniors through to 3rd place in their section of the league. One of the main failings was the number of draws, 8 in eighteen matches. Nevertheless there is hope that after this seasons experience the team will regain its rightful place in the premier division next season.

The Junior team enjoyed a very good season under managers Sean Geasley and Jimmy Hally. They played a lovely attractive brand of football and after topping their section in the league lost out in the round robin play off, drawing two matches and losing one. A big feature of this team was the goal scoring feats of Mark Moran who broke the club goal scoring record with 32 goals and scored five goals on two separate occasions.

The success of both teams is being matched off the field also. The dressing room facilities are the envy of many a club and the playing surface of the pitch at Old Church Park is improving every season despite some recent difficulties.

Chairman John Barry has been largely responsible for supervising the work on the pitch and the dressing rooms along with his various FAS workers over the last few years .The dressing room facilities were again funded by bank loans, club funds and especially a National Lottery grant for which the club is very grateful. As already mentioned we are very grateful for the FAS scheme which we have had for the last couple of years and the quality of their workers is reflected in the great condition the new ground and facilities are now in.

Finally the club would like to pay special tribute to Joe Stack and Ter Shealy who were founder members of the club back in 1981 and who are still greatly involved as secretary and committee member respectively all these years later. They and so many more people have contributed over the years to keeping the club alive through good times and bad and it is hoped some of the younger generation will get involved off the field as well as on it to continue the great work which has gone on before them.

Here is to the next 25 years and beyond!