GOING out on loan to Cobh two seasons ago proved to be beneficial for former Cork City player Pierce Phillips.
The 21-year-old Whitechurch man gained lots of experience, clocked up plenty of game time and has now decided that Cobh is the right club for him this season as he hopes to play a pivotal role for Stuart Ashton’s side.
Philipps was part of Steve Birmingham’s excellent U19 Cork City squad which won the league and cup double in 2016, as well as having a great run in the UEFA youth league. Through his time with Birmingham, he believes it was a foundation for his development in the game.
“I loved my time with Cork City U19s. Steve Bermingham was very influential in my career for giving me the opportunity to come to City 19s in the first place and for us to have such a successful few seasons was credit to him and John Caulfield whom I signed my first pro contract under.
“The group we had at City 19s was very talented. We won the league, the cup and did well in the UEFA youth league and a lot of these players have progressed well in football which is great to see because they were a hard-working bunch of committed lads.
“Through my performances with the 19s, I then progressed to the senior set up. However, I spent the first half of the season on loan to Cobh making 19 appearances which I thoroughly enjoyed and grew in confidence as a player, before returning to City.”
The former Ireland colleges and universities International made seven appearances for City last season which he believes has given him a lot of experience to push on this season with Cobh.
“Being part of the senior set up when we were reaching cup finals was a great experience. Unfortunately, we didn’t win but it was good to be part of. To travel across Europe to huge stadiums with big crowds for European games was also a great experience and I believe all this was a huge benefit to me in progressing in the game.”
Philips started out his career playing schoolboys with local club Rockmount before moving to Mayfield at U14 level. He then had another brief spell with Rockmount before signing with Cork City at U19s. After a successful spell with City 19s and not quite ready for the club’s first team, it was thought that going out on loan would be a better deal for Philips and so off he went to Cobh.
“When I went on loan to Cobh two seasons ago it was good for me to get games under my belt. It was essential to get a feel for first-team football as the physicality and speed of it is a step up from U19.
“I felt I did well during my first spell at Cobh but we didn’t have a good finish that season so this year were all hoping to push on.”
With Cork City being a relatively young side this season, many would have expected Philipps to slot right in and play a pivotal role for Neale Fenn’s side. However, with Philipps being the first signing for Stuart Ashton’s team, it ruled out any queries, and now the youngster is looking forward to the season ahead.
“This coming season I felt Cobh was the right destination for me as I’m at the age that I need games and to be playing on a regular basis.
“The squad this season is coming together nicely. Pre-season is going well and at the moment it’s about allowing time for everyone to gel and just prepare as best as we can when our first game comes around.
“There’s plenty of competition for places which is great as it pushes everyone and it improves the standards in training and over the course of the season you’ll need a lot more than just 11 players.
“Our expectations for this season are playoffs for promotion, as a group we feel we have the ability to push for it this year so hopefully we can prove that.
“Our first game is up in the air at the moment with the two sets of fixtures that have been released so it is either Drogheda or Wexford but we are focused on ourselves so we aren’t too concerned at this point who is up first.
“The management team and background staff play a major role making sure the standards for training and games are always high and getting the best out of us individually and as a whole.
“I’ve worked with Stu and Dec previously at city 19s so I’m looking forward to doing so again.
“The role I hope to play is to perform as best I can each game to help us reach where we are aiming for. If we can all, as a team, do that consistently throughout the season I’ve no doubt we’ll reach that.
“I hope to develop further as a player and prove my ability over the course of the season.”