Cobh Ramblers manager Stephen Henderson was overjoyed as his team created a bit of history by reaching their first ever National Cup final by beating Dundalk 1-0 in the EA Sports Cup semi-final.
In a match touted as David vs Goliath, many expected Premier Division heavyweights Dundalk to breeze past their First Division opposition. What transpired will live long in the memory of Ramblers supporters as Henderson’s young side showed a hunger, determination and experience beyond their years.
In truth, Cobh Ramblers were the better team throughout this contest, creating more chances while being solid in defence. Their organisation, with and without the ball, ultimately saw Dundalk come undone in the 75th minute when a clever through ball by Stephen Christopher allowed Chris Hull to get in behind the defence and slot past the onrushing Sava.
The final whistle was greeted with huge scenes of celebrations and manager Henderson was quick to heap the praise on his players.
“For the club, this is immense. It’s out first ever National Cup final. I thought that we might have needed a bit of luck to get through it but today we didn’t need any luck. It was pure determination, skill and organisation from our players. I thought we were better than them. Without the ball, our pressing was magnificent. When we had the ball, we created chances. It is a transitional year for us. We are looking for a superstar and I think we found a few tonight. Our league hasn’t been great but this is our first ever final so we are taking this as a great season.
“It was a great finish from Chris Hull. He suffers from asthma and was struggling with his breath, but he wanted to stay on. We knew he was quicker than their centre halves so one good ball and he’d be through. It was down then to his composure and he finished brilliantly.”
“It was very emotional. We have had a very difficult year on and off the pitch. There seems to always be something going on here but for the people who work, support and volunteer for the club it is a fantastic reward for them. That is what football is all about.”
Cobh Ramblers can now look forward to a National Cup final against Derry City and Henderson knows what it will mean to the club and its future.
“It would mean everything to go on and win this cup because we have never won a National title before. We are in the league over 35 years and in that time, we’ve won a First Division title and a Munster Senior Cup. That is all we have won. For a club like this we are striving to bring trophies here.”
“We would love to have the final at St. Colman’s Park. We would fill the place because it is a National Final. It would be a great occasion for the town and for Cork in general. We are delighted to now be part of the Cork success story over the last few years. In terms of Cork City, the Cork hurlers, all these guys are on the map for the right reasons and we are glad that we can now contribute to the ongoing success of Cork sport.”
“Don’t underestimate that Dundalk team tonight. If that team was in the First Division, they would stroll it. They are a Premier Division team that would probably challenge for a top four spot. We had a group of young lads out there who are trying to make their way in the game against full time professional players. The way we stood up to it was absolutely remarkable. Hopefully we have a group there that we can add to for next season that will take us forward and someday we will make that promised land of the Premier Division.”
“This is right up there as one of the biggest wins in the club’s history. It will be a fabulous occasion for us to get to the final, but we can’t be happy with just that. If we play like that again we won’t be far off winning the trophy. We have to ask the question now, can we could and win it?”