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Conor eyes Owls chance

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Conor Grant celebrates with teammate Oisin McEntee after the Republic of Ireland Under-19s’ UEFA European Championship Finals group B win over Czech Republic in Armenia last summer. Picture: Stephen McCarthy / Sportsfile

Conor Grant celebrates with teammate Oisin McEntee after the Republic of Ireland Under-19s’ UEFA European Championship Finals group B win over Czech Republic in Armenia last summer. Picture: Stephen McCarthy / Sportsfile

Conor Grant celebrates with teammate Oisin McEntee after the Republic of Ireland Under-19s’ UEFA European Championship Finals group B win over Czech Republic in Armenia last summer. Picture: Stephen McCarthy / Sportsfile

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Conor Grant may have endured a rocky start to his time at Sheffield Wednesday, but almost three years have now passed since he joined the Owls and these days the 18-year-old is loving life in the Yorkshire city.

Conor grew up in Donabate and stood out at underage level, putting in a string of excellent performances with various underage Malahide United sides.

Word quickly spread about the prodigious skills of the young midfielder and soon English scouts were coming across to watch Grant in action. Sheffield Wednesday offered the then 15-year-old a trial and shortly afterwards a contract was signed by the youngster.

Given that it was Conor's Junior Cert year it was decided that he would sign a six-month contract with Shamrock Rovers before joining up with the Championship club at the start of the 2017/18 season.

Those initial few months for the former Malahide man were tough as he struggled to settle in and suffered from bouts of home-sickness. However, having gotten over those initial rocky few months Conor gradually began to settle in and after starring for both the Under-18s and Under-23s the talented midfielder now believes he is ready to push on and become part of Garry Monk's first-team plans.

He had hoped to make that breakthrough this season, but those plans weren't helped by the Covid-19 outbreak which saw the teenager come back to the family home in Donabate. According to Conor, it was a nice - if unplanned - return home for a couple of months, but now the Under-19 international is back in Sheffield and just itching for a game of football.

'Yeah, I actually enjoyed the couple of months back home and it was nice to be at home with the family given I'm away for most of the year. I had actually returned home for just the weekend when this whole thing kicked off and it became apparent pretty quickly that I would not be returning to Sheffield any time quickly as the pandemic got worse.

'I got the call to go back about three weeks ago and returned to the club on May 22nd or thereabouts,' explained Conor.

'We've had to adapt to the training, which takes place in smaller groups now to comply with the regulations, but it's been working out okay so far. The first week back was so tough. It was basically just all running as the coaches tried to get our fitness back up to speed after the long lay-off. I have to admit that wasn't a whole lot of fun, but last week was much better as we got to do a lot more ball work.

'I'm enjoying training with the first team and I feel I'm getting closer all the time to making a breakthrough.

'We had a really good Under-18s side in the 2018/19 season and we won the national championship, which was a great buzz for all of us, and it was great to get a medal. I played a lot with the Under-23 team this season before the pandemic hit and I felt I was ready to make the step up to the first team.

'The manager Garry Monk has been very encouraging and I get on well with him. He has given me a lot of advice and information which has made me a better player and hopefully I'll get to show what I can do sooner rather than later.

'The plan is to keep working hard and hopefully I'll get my chance, if not this season then at the beginning of the next. I'm really enjoying life over here now and we have a great group of lads at the club.

'The Irish goalkeeper Keiren Westwood is here as well and he was a great help when I first came over and kind of looked after me as I was finding my feet.

'I do miss home sometimes, but I had a nice couple of months there back in Donabate and I'm just really eager now to put on the boots again and play a competitive game of football.

'We have seven or eight games left this season in the Championship and the goal for me now is to try and get in one of those match-day squads.'


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