Anybody who has even the smallest knowledge of League of Ireland soccer will know of the skill possessed by the footballing genius, Kieran Sadlier. He lit up the SSE Airtricity for both Sligo Rovers and Cork City over three seasons, scoring 31 goals in 49 appearances for Sligo and 18 in 48
appearances for Cork City. He is now in flying form for Doncaster Rovers in League 1 in England. The University Express spoke to Kieran a number of weeks ago about his experiences in Ireland, life in Doncaster and his ambitions for the future.
In January of this year, Sadlier made the move to Doncaster coming off an unbelievable season with Cork City which saw them win the League and Cup double. He has since settled in well back in England. He said Cork was a bigger City compared to Doncaster, which is a smaller town. It’s very convenient as Leeds and Manchester are nearby, and it’s only an hour and a half from home which is great according to the winger.
Kieran began his career as a youth player with Cambridge United before moving to West Ham
United in 2005. Speaking to the Express, Kieran said that “you do get homesick at 14/15 years of age but you do get over it, it’s all part of growing up”. After spells with St Mirren, Peterborough and
Halifax Town, Kieran decided to make the move to Ireland. “It was a big move but I loved every
minute of it, I had great teammates and it gave me a chance to show what I’m about”. Sadlier said that he would advise lads to go and play in Ireland as “you get the chance to play in the big
competitions, it’s a great place for football”. He feels it is “more beneficial to play for a club in Ireland than play in the lower leagues In England, and you would never get the chance to play the likes of Legia Warsaw or Rosenborg in England”. European football is a huge boost for the Irish teams and it is often the reason why players make the move across the Irish Sea.
Of course, we had to speak about Kieran’s time with Cork City and the vital role he played in bringing the two most prestigious pieces of silverware in Ireland back to Leeside. “Winning the FAI Cup in the Aviva is one of my favourite moments in football”. It was a massive achievement for Cork City to conquer Dundalk and claim their second successive cup title. That cup campaign was a very memorable one for Kieran, who recalls that he managed ‘”to score the winning penalty, and to score in every round of the cup, becoming the first player since 1974 and only the fourth in the history of the cup to do so”.
Perhaps the toughest question put to Kieran was who was the best player he played with at Cork
City. After giving credit to each of his teammates, Sadlier said Shane Griffin was one of the best. “Shane played left back behind me, we made a great combination”. Kieran had many big moments in a City jersey, going on to say, “I loved the big occasions, the long range goal against St Pats, the Presidents Cup victory over Dundalk, winning 4-2 having been 2-0 down”. All the City lads made Kieran feel very welcome and he enjoyed all his time in the green City jersey. “The whole year was great, living with Barry McNamee and Ronan Coughlan. All the lads, Conor McCormack and Karl Sheppard would all go for breakfast. It is a lovely place with great teammates”.
Being a professional footballer is a very demanding at times, but Kieran really does love his job. “Being able to do my hobby for a living is great, I’ve been kicking a ball around since I was 6/7 years old”. Doncaster Rovers are a prestigious club in England, celebrating 140 years this year. As a result there are high expectations but Sadlier takes them in his stride. “It is hard work, you’re relied on up front. I want to play every week”, explains the 24 year-old. Kieran enjoyed great success on the wing for City, and he hopes to keep that position and maintain his great form, saying that being “on the wing or behind the striker, No.10 wing is ideal for me”. Since moving to Doncaster, Kieran has gained
more knowledge of attacking play. “We have learned more attacking football and a different
perspective, creating more chances and scoring more goals”. With 2 goals and an assist already,
Sadlier is hoping to add to that tally as the season progresses. Last season ended in disappointment for Rovers as they just fell short in their bid for promotion losing to Charlton Athletic on penalties in the play-off semi-final. “Obviously last year, we fell at the final hurdle in the play-offs, this year we want to go one better and push for promotion”. In August, Kieran was named in the provisional Republic of Ireland squad for the matches against Switzerland and Bulgaria. When asked about receiving the call up, Kieran said “I was delighted, it was my target to get into the Ireland squad by the end of the season”. Despite not making the final 25 man squad, Kieran is eager to work hard and
aims to get into the next squad.
Having spoken to Kieran, his calmness and determination is admirable. He is a hardworking man, and there is little doubt that he will have a great career. He has given his all for every club he has played for, and he deserves every opportunity!