Sadlier happy with attention as Cork savour opening win
His name was in the headlines again on Saturday morning, and Kieran Sadlier is comfortable with the attention that brings.
The Cork City attacker is gearing up for a big year and is ready to respond to challenging words from his manager John Caulfield.
He believes that the 23-year-old is the most talented player in the League of Ireland right now and he's kicked off the season with a mission to justify that praise.
After a starring show in the President's Cup win over Dundalk, he made another vital contribution in a dramatic win away to St Patrick's Athletic on Friday.
Granted, there was a hint of fortune about it as a slip from the Saints keeper Barry Murphy allowed his late corner to go straight in. It gave the three points to the champions, a real smash and grab considering they were under pressure for long periods after being reduced to 10 men midway through the first half. "We showed our clinical side," admitted Sadlier, who joined Cork from Sligo Rovers last summer.
Few doubt Sadlier's technical prowess and match-winning quality; the challenge for the English-born former Ireland U-21 international is to work on the defensive side of his game.
He made a solid contribution in that department against St Pat's - a good sign for Caulfield who wants the player to shoulder extra responsibility.
"This year is a massive year for me," admitted Sadlier, who still speaks regularly to his former City and West Ham team-mate Sean Maguire and has taken inspiration from his success.
"It's obviously taken me a while to settle in, but I thrive on pressure so it's good for me.
"I'm happy with the way my game is going at the moment, and the way I'm learning new things in training, and ways to win and ways to work as a team to become a better player because I'm still young.
"As a footballer, you want to be in the limelight and you want to be at a big club. You want to be competing to try and win stuff, so it's exactly where I want to be right now. I'm in the perfect place."
Caulfield is happy that Cork are sharing the goals around with winter recruits Barry McNamee and Graham Cummins on target for the second game in succession.
The latter's contentious first half sending off means he will miss Friday's Munster derby with a Waterford side buoyed up by their opening-night win over Derry, although losing manager Kenny Shiels was not enamoured by their style of play.
St Pat's boss Liam Buckley feels that Cork were extremely lucky to be heading home with a victory under their belt, while acknowledging that his side didn't really do enough when they had the extra man.
"They've got out of jail here," he said. "They've got a corner and scored directly from it.
"They had nothing in the second half, absolutely zero. We had the ball, but we need to get better with it."
Across the city, Bohs owned the bragging rights following their derby win over a disappointing Shamrock Rovers.
The hero for the hosts was Dan Casey, with the ex-Sunderland player heading home an equalising goal and then putting the icing on the cake with another header after Paddy Kavanagh put Bohs in front.
Casey was a talented all-rounder as a teenager, a promising rugby talent who was on Leinster's radar, who was also involved in Dublin's underage Gaelic football teams - Con O'Callaghan was among his team-mates.
Eventually, Casy went down the soccer route and he is happier playing first-team football with Bohs than he was on the periphery at Sunderland, where he found U-23 football frustrating.
"There are a lot of good technical players but you are playing for nothing whereas there are people playing for their jobs over here. This is real stuff," said the Dún Laoghaire man, who is now working on his education as well as lining out for the Gypsies.
"I loved it over there. Sunderland were a great club and I can't say a bad word about them. But I needed to play first-team football and it was the right move to come back.
"Last year, I was playing U-23s football against teams who didn't care if they lost. This is a different ball game - you have fans, clubs, everyone looking out for you which is important and you don't want to let them down."
Rovers supporters were experiencing those negative emotions with manager Stephen Bradley blaming "ridiculous" defensive decisions.
They now face a challenging Tallaght date with Dundalk on Friday, with the visitors also in need of a lift following a drab draw with Bray.