PROGRESSION in football was always the main aim of enthusiastic youngster Killian Cooper.
Recently signed for Stuart Ashton’s Cobh Ramblers’ first team, Cooper is looking forward to his first season playing senior at League of Ireland level and believes the four years playing senior at MSL with clubs such as Everton, Avondale and Corinthians will stand to him as he steps up to this level.
“I made my senior debut for Everton when I was 17 where I stayed for two years while playing for both my own age group and the seniors,” said Cooper.
“I then moved to College Corinthians and played the next three seasons with them before moving to Avondale. Playing senior football at such a young age really helped me to see the physicality needed to play the game but also the knowledge of the game.
“A lot of the MSL players would have played LOI and returned to the MSL when maybe a little older so the standard of the games were still very high so that helped me a lot in my development.”
The 21-year-old from Ballyphehane has shown huge progression over the years, winning numerous individual awards as well as league titles and cup wins.
The striker has won the Golden Boot on a number of occasions, and he now hopes he can continue his great form in his new chapter at League of Ireland level.
“I spoke to Stuart Ashton back in December and it was agreed I would train and see how I got on. I trained for about four weeks and when I knew I was signing I was over the moon because it’s something I’ve been working towards for the last few years and I couldn’t be happier that it’s over the line now.”
Cooper experienced League of Ireland football back at U17 level when he lined out with Cobh Ramblers.
Here, he thoroughly enjoyed the experience which eventually led to him on trial for the international squad. All this led him back to this level, and he promises to do everything to make it a success for him and his team.
“I played at U17 level with Cobh and it was a really enjoyable experience. As a team, we didn’t have a great season but I still felt the experience at that level really developed me as a player.
“I was also lucky enough to travel to Dublin throughout that season on trial with the Irish U17 team. The training and trials was a fantastic experience for me, and although unfortunately, I didn’t make the squad I still knew it was a great achievement and it only drove me on to keep developing as a player.
“It gave me huge confidence and I think it helped in my transition to senior football shortly afterwards.”
Having tasted what pre-season is like at senior league of Ireland level, Cooper confesses it was tough at the beginning, but he is now really enjoying the challenge and is looking forward to the beginning of the league campaign which kicks off against Cork City.
I’m not going to lie the first few weeks were tough and I suppose this was due to the lack of training and games.
“A lot of the players were in the same situation so I suppose it helped a bit.
“But since we have been back into the swing of things and in a proper routine I feel better and fitter and can’t wait to start playing matches.
"The competition in the squad is great which means everyone is really pushing each other all the time and that can only be good for the individuals and the team as a whole.
“With very good players in every part of the pitch, the highest standard is always demanded and this I believe is what will make us a challenging team in this league.
“The level of training has really increased with a lot more physicality and fitness needed to be anywhere near the level of the league.
“The last couple of weeks we’ve really stepped up the training again to be ready for the friendly games and the start of the season and I’m feeling the best I’ve ever felt.”
The youngster, who works as a courier driver began his playing career with Togher side Everton and ever since he has wanted to play at the highest level possible.
“I always set my sights as high as I can and really test myself, I hope to be up around the top scorers in the league and hopefully help the team push for the title or at the very minimum a play-off spot as we know we are well capable of achieving.
“There’s a great group of lads on the squad and that was very evident to see from the first training session.
“There is a lot of youth in the squad with some of the U19s joining the senior set-up but even though the squad is young there’s a lot of experience in that youth. A lot of the lads have played a lot of games at this level so they know what it takes to get to where we need to be which will help a lot throughout the season.
“The first game against Cork City is a fantastic way to start what looks like a very competitive league. With the likes of City and Shels coming down, and a few of the other clubs already in the division looking like they mean business in the transfer window.
"We are looking forward to a very exciting but challenging season, where we hope to be challenging for honours."
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