CONNOR Ellis is in optimistic form. He’s come through seven weeks of pre-season and didn’t miss one training session. He started Limerick FC’s Airtricity League First Division opener against Longford Town and while it finished 0-0, he got 90 minutes under his belt. And he’s feeling confident again.
That’s why the Kealkill man believes he will start scoring goals again and help Limerick’s promotion push.
A hip injury suffered early last season set him back in his first year with Limerick, having made the switch from Cork City.
‘Touch wood, I’m injury free. I did seven weeks of pre-season and didn’t miss one session. I haven’t felt the hip at all and that’s good; that’s brought my confidence back again,’ the 21-year-old striker says,
‘Even though I played the last ten games of last season I was still waiting for the hip to go again. It was in my head. This year I am feel I am completely over it.’
Ellis wants to get back scoring goals. That’s what he does. But last season was a difficult one on and off the field for Limerick as they were relegated from the Premier Division. They’re in the First Division now but the negativity has been dispersed – Tommy Barrett has stayed on as manager and the club has secured financial backing for the season.
A promotion push has to be the target, Ellis says, but this will be a big ask in a competitive division. Top four might be a more realistic target. The top team will win promotion to the Premier and the next three teams play off with the winner here then taking on the second bottom team in the Premier.
‘I know there are a lot of good teams in the division but six or seven players that were on our starting team in the Premier are still at the club so we should be in and around the top half of the table,’ Ellis says.
‘The minimum target should be the play-offs. It’s a ten-team league so top four is realistic. Of course we want to get promoted but the club wants a year or two of stability as well.’
For Ellis, hitting the back of the net regularly is his target. Leading the line in a struggling Premier Division side last season meant chances were scarce. He hopes that changes this year.
‘I want to get back to scoring goals,’ he says.
‘I scored goals for fun growing up but last year I missed a lot of games. Last year we were camped deep so when the ball came up, I was trying to hold the ball to give the team a breather.
‘Hopefully this year we will be more competitive and that will hopefully lead to more chances, so I can start hitting the net again.’
Ellis drew a blank on the opening weekend of the First Division last Friday, a 0-0 draw against Longford Town, but he got the full game under his belt.
Even though it seems he’s been around for a while, he’s still only 21 and still learning the game.
‘The biggest thing I took from last year is that there are highs and lows in soccer,’ he explains.
‘I would have been involved in the Cork City U19 teams that won everything and then I went straight into the City team that won the double. But that was kind of a false environment. I never saw the other side of it.
‘When I came to Limerick we were in a relegation scrap and it was tough to adapt because I hadn’t experienced that before. I found it hard. It wasn’t as seem-less and as easy as it has been for the years before but last season helped me an awful lot. It’s helped me grow as a person and a player, and I am a lot more mentally stronger this year.’
Hopefully, Limerick FC will benefit from an improved and injury-free Ellis this season.