Norwich City gem Wes Hoolahan is the big draw for Cobh Ramblers friendly

Wes Hoolahan returns to Ireland with Norwich City next week. Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Wes Hoolahan returns to Ireland with Norwich City next week. Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

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Norwich City's Republic of Ireland star Wes Hoolahan is the big draw for Cobh Ramblers ahead of Daniel Farke's first public outing as Canaries' chief.

The League of Ireland First Division promotion contenders are hoping Hoolahan’s popularity guarantees a bumper crowd at St Colman’s Park for next week’s friendly.

Farke takes his new squad to Ireland for a training camp that will include a pre-season opener against the Ramblers on July 5.

Cobh boss Stephen Henderson wants the home fans to turn out in force for a prestige game to boost his club’s coffers.

“We were delighted to get Norwich because all the players are coming, Weso included. We need the money - not to get players in but to keep the club going,” he said, speaking to the Irish Sun. “We’re always very grateful to the people who support us - I mean that - but the crowds haven’t increased on last year at all and it’s become a grind.

“We were hoping to be averaging around the 500, 600 mark (this season). Sometimes I’m going on the pitch and counting how many people are at the game. Then you hear the gate and your heart sinks. That’s not to say we’re not grateful to the people who do come. They keep this league going.”

Cobh missed out in the play-offs last season but currently sit third, one place ahead of Hoolahan’s old club Shelbourne.

The City midfielder was part of a golden period for Shels, prior to his big break at Livingston, that included three League of Ireland Premier Division titles and some eye-catching results in the qualifying rounds of the Champions League.

Hoolahan will celebrate a decade of service at Carrow Road this coming season, but the reigning player-of-the-year is not ruling out a nostalgic return to his old club at the end of his career.

“If I was ever going to come back then I would probably look to play for Shels,” he said. “You never know. I had a great time at Shelbourne. One of my best memories was winning the league and cups and enjoying myself there. It is sad what has happened to them of late. We had a great squad, playing Champions League football and in the Europa League. I know they are in Division One now but the people there are brilliant and work so hard for the club.”

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