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Cork City defender John O’Donovan determined to build on his breakthrough season

March 15th, 2024 8:00 AM

By Kieran McCarthy

Cork City defender John O’Donovan determined to build on his breakthrough season Image
John O'Donovan signed a new deal with Cork City in December 2023.

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JOHN O’Donovan has set a goal for himself this season: he wants to become one of the first names on the Cork City team-sheet every week.

While last season was a struggle for City that ended in relegation from the Premier Division, it was also the campaign that the Ardfield soccer star (20) burst on the League of Ireland scene.

The highly-rated left back played 15 times in the Premier Division and twice in the FAI Cup in a breakthrough campaign that also saw him sign a new City contract in December.

With Cork City now in the First Division, O’Donovan wants to build on last season and become a regular.

‘This time last year I was only in training with the seniors for the first time, so looking back on it, for me it was a great year, to play so many games and to get so much experience,’ O’Donovan told The Southern Star.

‘If you told me this time last year I would play 17 times for the first team last season, I wouldn't have believed you. 

‘The aim now is to push on, build on that and play even more games but I know I have to work hard and train hard to keep my spot. 

‘I want to get as many games as I can under my belt. I’m still young so the more first-team games that I get, the better for me.’

The former West Cork schoolboys soccer star, who lined up with his home club Ardfield, has played the full 90 minutes in Cork City's last three league games – against Finn Harps, UCD and Longford Town – having come back from an injury that disrupted his pre-season. 

City hit the summit in the First Division last weekend after a 2-0 away win against Longford Town and are home to Bray on Friday night – it’s another chance for O’Donovan to impress and help City build momentum.

‘Being relegated last year was very disappointing so the target for the club and the squad is to go back up to the Premier. We know that’s not going to be easy. We’re probably the favourites, but it won’t be as easy as anyone thinks. We want to get back up to the Premier and put the club to where they belong,’ he said, knowing too that Cork City are the scalp the other teams in the league want.

‘We are the only full-time squad in the First Division, but other teams will look at us and want to beat us, so we need to be ready for that – and we are.’ 

‘It’s not going to be easy,’ O’Donovan added, as he works hard to build on his impressive 2023 campaign. He was one of City’s top performers in last weekend’s win against Longford, as the table-toppers kept a third clean sheet in four games. More of the same will see O’Donovan reach his goal this season and keep City’s title charge on track. 

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