Cork starlet Ellis thrilled to be learning from Maguire
The kids at Shamrock Rovers have garnered a lot of attention but the Cork City side they host this evening have some promising talent of their own.
And young attacker Connor Ellis is starting to turn heads in his role as impact substitute.
John Caulfield's side are quite reliant on the goalscoring nous of Sean Maguire. His record speaks for itself.
However, they are nurturing an effective back-up in the form of Ellis, who has helped to ease fan frustration over the loss of the talented Chiedozie Ogbene to Munster rivals Limerick.
The 19-year-old broke his duck at senior level when he came off the bench against Galway a fortnight ago and he followed it up with another cameo role and goal in Drogheda last Friday.
He has an interesting back story. Ellis has an English father and Irish mother and lived in Birmingham until he was 12.
He took up GAA when the family moved to West Cork, although he never quite had the same love for it as his friends who were involved in the sport for all of their lives.
"I was playing for St Colum's on the outskirts of Bantry," says Ellis. "I got a bit of stick from my mates for giving up my GAA days but if you want to make it, that's what you have to do.
"I never really had the same passion as my mates. It was tough in a sense as I'd already left them to go and play soccer up in Cork, so leaving them in GAA as well. . . a few of them were saying 'ah he thinks he's too good for it', but you're always going to get that."
Ellis did his Leaving Cert last year and then signed his first pro contract with Cork, which was only really an introductory deal that allowed him to go on loan to Cobh Ramblers.
He signed a proper City contract at the start of the year and is enjoying the commitment. The youngster admits to some mixed emotions watching Maguire tear it up when he has his own ambitions.
Last November, he travelled to the Aviva Stadium with the squad to watch the star man grab a late winner to down Dundalk.
"In one sense I was saying I want that to be me and I want to push on," he explains. "On the other, you're taken aback to see the standard of player and league that we have. It's a pleasure to be playing and training with the likes of Seanie Maguire.
"The stuff he does in training day in, day out is just frightening. I still have a long way to go but training with him can bring you on leaps and bounds.
"The way I see it, we probably have the best squad in the country. I know Dundalk have had a good few years but I'd go as far as saying that."
Caulfield has high hopes for Ellis, but has warned him to stay grounded too having watched others fall by the wayside.
"He has a lot of talent and he's a very good finisher," he says. "He's quick over the top but needs to get physically stronger. He has the raw materials but we've had a lot of 19-year-olds who have had an opportunity and didn't take it.
"Sometimes you need to be careful and he needs to keep his feet on the ground and work on the areas he's not good at. I've had one or two in my time at Cork City and they have drifted away. The key for him is to get stronger and better, but attitude is the most important thing."
Cork are top of the table with four wins from four and Tallaght was a relatively happy hunting ground last term - they knocked five past Rovers in the FAI Cup, which was a sobering experience for then caretaker Stephen Bradley.
But the Cork boss has said that the Hoops will be expecting to challenge for the league this term, although Bradley has stopped short of saying that in public.