By Andrew Horgan
Cobh Ramblers captain Shane O’Connor believes his side are ready to create a shock when they take on Derry City in the EA Sports Cup final on Sunday afternoon.
O’Connor, 28, will lead his side into their first ever national cup final against a Derry team who are overwhelming favourites to claim the silverware.
Ramblers, who haven’t conceded a single goal in the League Cup this season, defeated the likes of Limerick and Dundalk en route to this showpiece occasion and the former Liverpool player believes they are capable of upsetting the odds once again this weekend.
“The game’s already four or five-nil in a lot of their people’s minds but they haven’t seen us play,” enthused O’Connor.
“They haven’t seen the work commitment, the drive, and the passion that we have for the game and I think we can go up there and shock a lot of people.
“We need to be at it and we need them to fall down a gear or two for us to win but as we showed against Dundalk anything can happen.
“There’s no pressure on us.”
Ramblers will begin their long journey to Derry tomorrow morning ahead of the final. St Colman’s Park may have hosted the draw to decide the venue but it is the Brandywell that will host the match itself.
The news came as a disappointment to Cobh’s fans and management alike, who feel and neutral setting such as the Aviva Stadium would be more fitting, but for O’Connor, it offers an exciting challenge.
“If you gave me the option I would rather win it up there.
“It’s a good challenge for us. Obviously, they’re going to be hopping, the ground’s going to be full of their fans although we’ll have a few there.
“It would be nice for someone like us to be going up and playing at the Aviva but then again, how many fans are you going to get in there from Cobh and Derry?
“I like the small compact ground. I have no problem with it being in Derry because I like that little hostile atmosphere, the fans will be able to get on our backs. I’ve played there when it’s been half full and you know there’s people on your case and I like that part of it. I am looking forward to the challenge of beating them up there.”
Along the way north, the team will stop in Abbottstown where they will participate in a light training session on the FAI’s artificial surface, similar to the one used at the Brandywell. O’Connor featured in the Cobh side that lost in the FAI Cup to Dundalk on the astro-turf at Oriel Park but insists the pitch shouldn’t be a factor on Sunday.
“I didn’t really enjoy the Dundalk one. The position I play, if you try to pass the ball, it slides that little bit more. You think you’ve played a good ball out wide but then, you look like a bit of a fool because the ball is after travelling out of play... it’s something we have to deal with if we want to win the cup.”