Monday 30 January 2023 Dublin: 6°C
Twitter/KieranSadlier Sadlier and Maguire on Ireland duty.
# Interview
'Not getting a chance at West Ham made me want to prove myself. It was the same with Sean Maguire'
Sligo Rovers winger Kieran Sadlier on settling into life in the League of Ireland and aspirations for club and country.

WE ALL KNOW Sean Maguire is the League of Ireland’s most sought-after player right now, but a former team-mate of the Cork City striker has been showing his class out west.

Although Sligo Rovers have endured a difficult start to the 2017 campaign, winger Kieran Sadlier is shining brightly in the SSE Airtricity League with five goals so far.

The 22-year-old spent a decade at West Ham before Dave Robertson brought him to Peterborough United and, subsequently, on to the Showgrounds. While developing at the Hammers’ academy, he shared a room with Maguire and the pair soon became mates.

“I loved my time at West Ham and made a lot of friends that I still keep in touch with now,” Sadlier told The42 this week. “I learned a lot and it was a good academy for me to be at.

“The last three years were frustrating as no one was ever going to break into the first team with the manager that was there [Sam Allardyce].

It was a good 10 years but I had to leave when I did.”

He adds: “Not getting a chance there made me want to go and prove that I’m good enough. It was the same with Sean Maguire, he was my room-mate and we’re still good friends now.

“He’s proven his worth and hopefully I’m doing the same.”

Soccer - FA Youth Cup - Fourth Round - West Ham United v Tottenham Hotspur - Upton Park EMPICS Sport Sadlier (right) in action for West Ham in the FA Youth Cup in 2013. EMPICS Sport

Sadlier, who was born in Haywards Heath in Sussex, enjoyed a brief spell at St Mirren after departing West Ham in 2015 and made his full debut against the Scottish Premiership champions.

“That was my first taste of first-team football and I was thrown straight into the Premiership up there,” he remembers. “We played Celtic at home and I put in a really good performance.”

He learned a lot during that short stint and had the offer to extend his stay but opted instead for a move to the Posh. Robertson rated Sadlier but was sacked just two months after the youngster’s arrival, and he found himself farmed out to Halifax Town on loan.

When his old manager was handed the Sligo job later that year, however, he gave several of his former players the chance to link up once again in the League of Ireland. Sadlier accepted the invite as it would provide him with the opportunity to gain valuable experience playing regular football.

Soccer - Scottish Premiership - St Mirren v Celtic - St Mirren Park Jeff Holmes Wearing the colours of St Mirren. Jeff Holmes

It may have taken him some time to adapt to the lifestyle change that comes with moving from London to Sligo, but, now in his second season, he feels settled.

Living with another ex-Hammers youth player, Daniel Kearns, and former Peterborugh full-back Tobi Adebayo-Rowling helps, while his parents come over from Cambridge to watch him play regularly.

Heavy defeats in the opening two games of the year — to Limerick and Dundalk — saw the club under pressure right from the off and although results began to pick up, Robertson was out of a job by the beginning of April.

I was sad to see him go and so were a lot of the other players, especially those he had brought in and the ones that had known him from being at Peterborough,” he says.

“That’s just the way football is and things like that happen. I’m sure he’ll have no worries getting another job somewhere else and I’ll stay in contact with him because he’s a good manager.”

Gerard Lyttle Presseye / Jonathan Porter/INPHO Gerard Lyttle has replaced Dave Robertson. Presseye / Jonathan Porter/INPHO / Jonathan Porter/INPHO

Gerard Lyttle has since come in from Cliftonville to replace Robertson and Sadlier has been impressed so far.

“His training sessions have been really good, we concentrate on keeping the ball and working hard. Personally I get on with him as well and he’s good with man-management.

“I think he’s only done one full week here and he’s still getting used to it, but come July he’ll want to bring more players in and strengthen the squad.”

Unbeaten in their last three league outings, the Bit O’Red are 10th in the Premier Division table and just a point behind Finn Harps ahead of Saturday’s meeting with Limerick.

Watch Sadlier’s free-kick in the win over Bray Wanderers [2.38 in]: 

Sligo Rovers / YouTube

“At the back-end of last season, we wanted to push for the top four which I think we are more than capable of doing,” says Sadlier. “Our start has killed that a bit but it’s a long season and if you look at the table it’s very tight.

“Personally, I’ve been really pleased with how I’ve been doing. I worked hard in the off-season and came back fit, now I’m scoring goals and I want that to continue.

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“I’ve only had about 60-odd professional games so far and I’m still quite young but this has been the best spell I’ve played and it’s good to be getting a run of games. I just want to play as well as possible and see how far I can go in my career.”

Darren Meenan with Kieran Sadlier Donall Farmer / INPHO He's been the Bit O'Red's outstanding performer this season. Donall Farmer / INPHO / INPHO

Like Maguire and so many of the players currently plying their trade in the League of Ireland, if the right opportunity came to make a switch to England, Sadlier would undoubtedly consider it.

“When I first came over, I was at Peterborough but I wanted to play regular football,” he explains.

“I made it clear that I was coming here to showcase what I could do and go further in my career. Even Dave Robertson came out and said that it’s a stepping stone for me because he knew I was good enough but it was just about showing it.

“Hopefully now with the performances that I’m putting in I’ll be able to get the attention and have clubs watching me in the same way that Sean is.”

Sadlier’s late grandfather was born and raised in Tipperary, making him eligible to represent Ireland. There was talk at age 15 of a call-up to England for the Victory Shield tournament but it never came and he opted to represent the Boys in Green after inclusion in an underage squad.

He has gone on to line out for Ireland at every level up to U21, and is thankful of the experience.

I’ve always supported Ireland with my background and I ended up playing for them and stuck with them all the way up to U21s. We’ve had good teams and I’ve made good friends.

“It helped me coming over here as well — knowing people and a bit about the league. The likes of Chris Forrester at Peterborough told me about it as well.

“I hope to get into the senior team in the future. When you see [Daryl] Horgan and [Andy] Boyle do it last season, they’re two or three years older than me so it gives you hope. I think I’m capable of it.”

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