Last season, striker Seanie Maguire revealed Cork City had put him on a specialised diet to put on extra weight ahead of his spectacular season, as they looked to add some sinew to his savvy.
This year, Kieran Sadlier is muscling in on the act.
“Kevin (Tattan, Cork City’s strength and conditioning coach) came up with a plan for me. It was mainly in gym work and weights, putting an extra bit of weight on and toughening up,” says Sadlier.
“When I was back in England for the break, I worked with someone over there but I was in constant contact with Kevin.
"The physical side was a part of my game I wanted to improve and obviously to get a bit fitter.”
A mid-season signing from Sligo Rovers last year, Sadlier quickly made an impression, and even scored the winning penalty in last year’s FAI Cup final. Still, City manager John Caulfield predicted it would be 2018 before he would be up to speed with the Leesiders.
The former West Ham man looks to be right on schedule.
Sadlier has made an impressive start to the new season, scoring a spectacular strike in an impressive display in the President’s Cup win over Dundalk, and the winning goal in last weekend’s opening league win over St Pat’s, at Richmond Park.
City clocked up the miles in Inchicore last Friday, as the win was achieved with 10 men after Graham Cummins was sent off in the first half. The club pride themselves on their fitness levels, something Sadlier noted when he arrived in 2017.
“When I came to Cork, I found the intensity was much higher, in training and the way we’d play,” he recalls.
“So I wanted to get much fitter and stronger. I worked really hard over the break and have been doing so in pre-season as well. I think we’re all very fit at moment, and we can even get fitter.
“I’ve had some good seasons here in Ireland, in Sligo, and I did my part for Cork last year. I think this is the season for me where I can really establish myself and prove what I can do.”
An elegant, two-footed player, Sadlier is happy on either wing or as a number 10, but has this season made an impressive partnership on the left wing with Shane Griffin in behind him. “I played with Shane in Irish underage sides and I’ve played against him as well. We’re good friends off the pitch as well and we’ve a good relationship. It’s good to have him behind me.”
Garry Buckley has returned to training with City but tomorrow night’s Munster derby is likely to come too early for him. Defender Conor McCarthy and midfielder Gearoid Morrissey are recovering from knocks while striker Josh O’Hanlon is also out. With Cummins suspended, this could mean an instant debut for teenager Michael Howard, signed on loan from Preston on Tuesday.
Caulfield sees this as a big opportunity for Howard, citing the example of Ryan Delaney, who got his career back into gear at Turner’s Cross.
“The opportunity is massive if fellas can hold their heads. A lot of players come back from England and they’ve been spoiled with very big contracts at 17, 18, 19 and getting paid four times what they’ll get paid here.
"They have no appreciation of money. You can only give them the environment and then it’s up to themselves. Ryan is a great case in point and hopefuly we’ll have a lot more of these guys.”
- Graham Cummins is available for Cork’s trip to Sligo on Monday after his suspension for his red card at St Pat’s was limited to one match.
Cummins was sent off after an aerial challenge with Kevin Toner but Caulfield had sympathy for referee Rob Harvey.
“It is difficult for referees. They see it once and between them and the linesman have to decide,” he said. “The quality and standard of refs in the league is very good.”