Cobh Ramblers F.C. player, Ian Mylod, sat down with Diarmuid O’Neill this week to give an insight into life playing League of Ireland football.
Ian Mylod, 24, has been a regular in the Ramblers’ first team since signing ahead of the 2016 season. As a left-sided player, Ian has played at left back and left wing over the past three seasons and has successfully established himself as a regular in the side every week.
HE previously played for Cobh at Under 17 and Under 18 level, while he moved to Cork City to play at Under 19 level. Mylod spent three enjoyable seasons at UCC, a club which has provided a platform for many ex-League of Ireland underage players to play at a high level in the Munster Senior League.
Here, Mylod speaks in great detail about a range of topics including training, life at Ramblers and manager Stephen Henderson.
If you have a match on a Saturday, what is your weekly training routine?
“Normally, if we have a game on a Saturday we would train Monday, Wednesday and Friday. We would also have two gym sessions as well, one on a Tuesday and normally the second session on a Thursday before a pitch session. I like to keep Wednesday free as a rest day.
“Sometimes between work and training you would be exhausted come the middle of the week so it is important to rest both mentally and physically. After a game we would normally have a recovery session on a Sunday morning which would consist of a pool session and foam rolling.”
Who is the best player you have directly come across while playing in the First Division?
“I think it is fair to say that the First Division has been really competitive over the last number of years. Every team is capable of beating each other on their day. Each club has their own match winners who are capable of winning games on their own also.
“Obviously when Limerick came down, they ran away with the league in the end but I felt we proved towards the end of the 2016 season we could put it up to them. Waterford also had a very good squad last season but again I didn’t feel we were that far off them.
“Looking at our own squad over the last few years, I felt John Kavanagh had a really big impact for us when he came to us on loan from Cork City. He brought experience to a young dressing room and really helped us in pushing Waterford right to the end of the season for the title. Unfortunately, we fell short but I felt he had a big impact on the squad in driving us forward for the few months he spent with us.
“He is very direct and comfortable on the ball. As a full back it was great to have him here to learn from him. It is great to see him back to his best now at Waterford.
” Other players such as Darren Murphy and Anthony McAlavey also bring real quality and experience to the team. They can pull out moments of magic in high pressure games and are a real joy to watch.”
Stephen Henderson is a passionate football man, does this come across in his managerial style?
“For any young player, I feel they would benefit massively from working with Hendo at some stage in their career. He has shown he is willing to give any player a chance no matter what age, size or experience they have. He is very passionate and wears his heart on his sleeve. He has a very good way with players and knows how to get the best out of you.
“I feel he doesn’t get half the credit he deserves for the job he has done here at Ramblers. The club were only just surviving when he came in and he has brought it from the bottom of the league to challenging at the top over the last two seasons.”
With the majority of First Division players juggling football with work, what are the biggest challenges combining both?
“Obviously playing League of Ireland football is a massive commitment. The majority of clubs in the country are amateur so all players have to balance work commitments and football. You have to be willing to sacrifice a lot because your week consists of work during the day and training in the evening with the aim of a game on either the Friday or Saturday.
“You have to be well organized and disciplined as you balance the demands of both. I feel if you can plan ahead and organize yourself it is well able to work.
“It can be good sometimes to go into work and take your mind off football, and also go training in the evening to take your mind off work.
“It would be fantastic if you could focus purely on football but the harsh reality of it is that the money is not there for clubs to turn professional. Sometimes I have struggled to make the bus for away games on Friday evenings as I am a teacher and I am in school too late, but Shane Kavanagh, the club’s goalkeeping coach has been very good to me and would bring me up to games after work.
“It is the little things like this that help massively in trying to prepare to your best during the week for the game at the weekend while also balancing a full-time job.”
Cobh competed well with Waterford last season despite their superior resources. Did a lack of a play-off opportunity weigh on the players’ minds at all?
“Not at all! When we sat down at the start of the season we felt there was an opportunity there for us to go and win the league. I don’t think any club will set their stall out at the start of the year being happy to settle for a play-off. Everyone is in it to win it and we are no different. Obviously, Waterford having the resources to sign whoever they wanted was going to give them an advantage over other clubs but at the end of the day it is 11 v 11 on the pitch and anything can happen on a given day.
“It was disappointing to come so close, falling short by five points in the end given the difference between the two clubs going into the season but again, we showed we don’t fear any side on our day and we want to challenge and test ourselves against the best.”
What are the biggest changes that you have seen in Cobh since you have arrived?
“The biggest change I have seen over the year is the professionalism and the standards which are now expected of the players from the club. I played for Ramblers for two years underage, at Under 17 and Under 18 levels and trained with the first team when they were in the A Championship at the time before the club eventually went out of business for a few years. I remember having to travel to games in cars and some players wouldn’t even have club tracksuits.
“However, since I have come back, it is almost like a different club, and that is largely down to the great work being done by Hendo, the back room team and the committee. The partnership with Fota Island Resort, Joma, as well as the charity partnerships are just some examples of the great work being done by the club that you would have never seen before.
“As players, we can fully focus on their training and games as everything is there for us. Everyone knows what is expected of them.
It is important that as players we can try to replicate the hard work that is being done off the field on the field each week.”
The off season is usually a time to reflect, did you set yourself any personal aims for the current season over winter?
“I never really set any personal aims. My focus is mainly working hard each week to earn a place in the team. I feel then you have to take each week as it comes because if you get complacent you can lose focus and start dropping points very easily. The First Division is very competitive, and everyone is capable of beating each other every week.”
You went from Cork City Under 19’s to UCC and later signed for Cobh, a fine achievement. What advice would you give to any players who leave the League of Ireland after Under 19 level and want to get back to it at Senior level?
“For any young player trying to make it the step up from Under 19 level to Senior, it can be very difficult. If you look at Cork City over the past few years, Garry Buckley and John Kavanagh have been the only ones who have really succeeded in making that step.
“I feel Cobh has provided many young players with a platform to try push themselves in making this jump up once they have the right attitude and are willing to work hard!”
Cobh Ramblers host UCD on Friday nigth at 19:45.