TWO months ago, Kevin Taylor stepped away from League of Ireland football, due to work commitments.
But he spoke with management at Cobh Ramblers and now Mallow native Taylor is hoping to help his side win a league title.
The 21-year-old former Cork City full-back has enjoyed a few seasons with Cobh, having found it difficult to break into Cork City’s first team.
“I was disappointed when I wasn’t brought into the first team at City, because, at the time, I felt I was ready, but I didn’t get my opportunity to play and, I suppose, it was understandable, considering the players that were in the first team at the time,” said Taylor.
“I did get to train with them a few times and I played a few friendlies and, yes, the quality was clear to see, but I felt I should have been more involved, but that’s football.
“I left City because I wasn’t getting any first-team football and then I made the move to Cobh and I went straight into the team,” Taylor said.
“I knew a lot of people that were in the squad already, so they all made me feel welcome very fast and I actually made my debut that week, away to Wexford.
“I’m really enjoying my time with Cobh. They gave me a chance at the time, considering I never played any league or cup minutes for City and they believed in me and I think I made the step-up quite well and I’m very happy here,” Taylor said.
The apprentice carpenter started out with Mallow schoolboys, before moving to Cork City at the age of 16 and straight into the U19 squad. It was there he developed hugely as a player.
“Playing with City was a fantastic experience and I really enjoyed my time there,” Taylor said.
“We achieved a lot there, winning two league titles, one cup, and got to represent Ireland in the UEFA youth league with City.
“It was fantastic to be playing with City and training was at an exceptionally high standard, with the players we had at the time.
“My first season with City was under Stuart Ashton and Paul Bowdren and I found it tough at the beginning. It was a big step-up, but I put my head down, worked hard, got myself into the team, and ended up getting ‘player of the year’ for them,” Taylor said.
“I have played alongside some fantastic footballers over the years, the likes of Conor McCarthy, Edozie Ogbene, Aaron Drinan, Sean McLoughlin, Caoimhin Kelleher, Cian Coleman, and many more.
“The managers I’ve played under — such as Paul Bowdren, Stuart Ashton, Steven Birmingham, Dec Coleman, and Stephen Henderson — all gave me a lot of experience and knowledge of the game.”
Going to Cobh was another challenge for Taylor and although disappointed to leave City, he soon settled in and enjoyed playing first team football. As the years went by, work became an obstacle and trying to balance everything was difficult.
Before last Christmas, he decided to leave. However, he has since changed his mind, and has been putting in a huge effort at pre-season to make the starting XI.
“I announced I was leaving before Christmas, as I wasn’t able to commit 100%, with work, but I had a chat with Kavs and Stuart and we switched a few things around, so it was a no-brainier, really.
“I’m also into my third year in a carpentry apprenticeship and I want to see that out and do my four years, but it’s great to be able to balance both work and football,” Taylor said.
“Pre-season this year has been excellent; some great quality at training, where all the boys are working hard and there’s a huge effort being put in by the coaches.
“We are all getting on well with each other and trying to be as welcoming as possible to the new players.
“The squad that’s coming together seems to be the perfect mixture of youth and experience and, hopefully, a few more players will make the step-up from U19s and, at Cobh, they will definitely get their chance, if they are preforming week in week out,” Taylor said.
“I definitely expect us to be challenging for top-three position this season.
“My aims for the season would be to make the starting 11. The competition for places in the squad is huge, which makes things very interesting at training, so to make the starting line up would be my priority, along with helping the team challenge for the title.
“I feel as though we have a good chance of winning the league, with the quality of players we have this season.
“We are all working really hard and there is a massive focus on our goals for the season, and I have huge confidence that the squad can deliver,” Taylor said.