AFTER becoming a regular in Cork City’s matchday first-team squad, Sean Kennedy admits that he was surprised by how much he was involved in the side this season.
Kennedy made a name for himself by scoring the winning goal in City’s 3-2 victory away to Galway United back in August, a moment Kennedy admits was the highlight of his season.
“I definitely didn’t expect to feature as much as I did. When I got the opportunity to train with the first-team, my thoughts were to just keep my head down, train hard, and see what happens. So, it’s been really pleasing to have been involved as much as I was.
“The only disappointment I suppose is that we would have liked to have done better as a team but it’s been good for me personally to experience first-team football.
"We finished four points off the play-offs and we know we could have done better and we will be looking to improve next season.
"I suppose most attackers would say that scoring their first senior goal was the moment that would stand out for them.”
Unlike previous off-seasons, Kennedy now will be prepared knowing that he will be returning to first-team training and is aware that he will have to be extra cautious this off-season.
“The off-season will be a little bit different for me. It’s never been a case in the past that I would be returning with the mindset that I am a first-team player. I know I will have to look after myself in the off-season.
"I’ll be returning home to Kerry for a bit but I’ll always be mindful of the tough preseason ahead of me.
“I did notice the difference in physicality playing first-team football. It’s a big step-up from playing with the under-19s, so the off-season will also give me the opportunity to get into the gym and improve that side of my game.
"The intensity in training as well is a big difference, so I will be staying fit and making sure I am ready when we do return.”
Kennedy joined City’s academy after leaving Sunderland in 2019.
"The 19-year-old had initially signed a three-year contract with the Black Cats but decided to end his stay in England after just one year. Although Kennedy has not ruled out returning to the UK someday, he is focused on building his career with City.
"I must admit that it is an incredible setup at Sunderland and players are left wanting nothing. Everything is provided for players to be the best they can be. It’s really up to the player themselves whether they make the most of it. The training ground is probably one of the best in England.
“I stayed in a digs while I was there, and while I did enjoy it at the beginning, after a few months I wasn’t enjoying my football and fell out of love with playing.
"I just never settled properly. I was always thinking that I wanted to go back to Ireland rather than just staying at Sunderland for the sake of it.
“It was my decision to end my contract. Some people might think that’s a little bit crazy but I wasn’t happy and I have no regrets about any decisions I have made. I’m enjoying it now at the moment. I wouldn’t change anything.
“Would I go back? I wouldn’t ever rule it out but right now, I’m happy at City and want to concentrate on my football here. I want to try and get more experience in playing games”
So, how did Kennedy end up at City after returning from Sunderland?
“When I came back, one of the lads I knew from Kerry was going up and down training with City, so I spoke to him to see if I could travel with him and see how I would get on at City.
“It started with just a few sessions with City and I was asked by the club to join and I’ve been here since and I’ve really been enjoying it.”