As far as breakout seasons go, they don’t come much better than Kieran Sadlier’s first full campaign for Cork City.
Twenty-six goals in all competitions and a place in the PFAI Team of the Year, the 24-year old has been one of City’s standout performers this season, despite the Leesiders relinquishing both their Airtricity League and FAI Cup crowns to rivals Dundalk.
“Yeah I came into the season I think the most I’ve scored in a season was 13 goals and I wanted to get to around 15 goals this year,” began Sadlier speaking to Pundit Arena shortly after his side’s FAI Cup defeat to Dundalk.
“I got 26 so it’s been a dream season for me personally and goal wise.
“There was a bit of a period in the middle of the season where I didn’t play as much as I wanted to which was disappointing but I think I came back and wanted to prove a point which I did.
“I wanted to also make sure I started in the final and have my say on it which I almost did. Yeah it’s been a great season for me personally but I wanted to win more trophies as well like last year so that would be the disappointment.”
John Caulfield’s side finished ten points behind the Lilywhites in the league and second best to them in the cup final and, as a whole, felt an air of disappointment off the season.
In Sadlier, however, they consistently had a player capable of turning a game in their favour, evident from the 24-year old becoming the first player in over 40 years to score in every round of the FAI Cup, which included that crucial penalty in the semi-final against Bohemians.
“Yeah I was very proud of scoring in every round,” said Sadlier of his unique achievement.
“But if I had to choose I would’ve had the winners medal instead but it’s a great achievement for myself. I knew of it going into the game, a couple of people said it to me.
“I’d definitely rather win the cup and have that achievement and if I was to have gotten both that would be great but yeah I’m proud of that even though it wasn’t the main aim of the day.”
As with most standouts in Irish football, talk immediately turns to two things. A move to England and rumours of an international call-up.
Sadlier is English born having played for the likes of West Ham and Peterborough United but outlined that putting on the Irish jersey is a major ambition of his in the game.
Many Irish fans have been pining for a number of domestic players to be included in O’Neill’s upcoming squad and despite there being a lack of any League of Ireland representation, Sadlier feels that he is “more than capable” of cutting it at international level.
“Yeah, 100% I have international ambitions, I think I’m more than capable of doing that.
“I don’t know when that’ll happen but hopefully, in the future, it will happen and it’s something that I would be very proud to do and it is a target and an ambition of mine. It would make me very proud to put on the Irish jersey.”
If history tells us anything it’s that a move to England would greatly benefit Sadlier’s chances of an international call-up.
Although revealing nothing concrete the midfielder did confirm that there has been interest in him from across the water, and proving himself in England is something that Sadlier certainly appears to be keen on.
“There is interest from clubs in Ireland and in England,” admitted Sadlier.
“But it’s something that I haven’t really decided on yet. I want to go home and discuss it with my family and my agent and then decide and I’d say it won’t be long until I do decide but when I get home to England I’ll be deciding.
“To be honest I haven’t really given it too much thought just yet.
“Going back to England would be an option I grew up there and I played football there and I’d love to see how far I could go over in England and that’s something I’d definitely think about when I’m deciding on my future but yeah I want to play at the highest level possible.”
Although Sadlier’s future is unclear it certainly is bright, regardless of his next move.
If the 24-year old can continue his form from this season into his next then he’ll no doubt put O’Neill and co. on notice.