KIERAN McCARTHY chats to striker Connor Ellis after his move to Limerick FC
CONNOR Ellis is a striker with something to prove.
That’s one of the main reasons why he has swapped 2017 double champions Cork City for Limerick FC, signing a two-year deal with the Blues last week.
Ellis scored five goals for Cork City last season across all competitions and featured 20 times in the league – but his search for regular first-team football has seen him move up the N20 to Limerick.
He has an impressive medal collection for a 20-year-old but he doesn’t want to sit on the bench anymore.
He wants to score goals and show he is good enough to light up the League of Ireland Premier Division.
‘I felt when I came on in games last season that I did reasonably well but I need the chance to show what I can do on a consistent basis,’ Ellis said.
‘I have maybe 25 appearances in the Premier Division and 20 of those have been off the bench, with ten, 15 minutes here and there.
‘Even though I have some experience at that level and am coming off the back of a good youth career, I am relatively unproven.
‘I don’t walk around thinking that I am something. I have to prove that I am good enough to play at this level.
‘This is a chance to test myself and show people that I am good enough.’
Unproven at the top level, the 20-year-old Kealkil man enjoyed an impressive youth career with Cork City, and last season saw him play his part as John Caulfield’s team dominated the domestic scene, winning the league and the cup.
Ellis was part of that success but he felt that if he stayed with City this year he would still be used off the bench when he wants to play and develop.
‘Leaving Cork was a tough decision to make,’ he admitted.
‘I was at Cork all my professional life, the last four years, coming out of the youth team and into the first team. It’s all I have ever known in some ways.
‘As good as last year was, and it was brilliant to win the double, I think everyone knows that I didn’t play as much as I wanted to.
‘After City signed Graham Cummins – and he is a fabulous striker – I was thinking that I’d have been in the same position again this season, coming off the bench.
‘All of a sudden you go from being a promising talent to an U19 to spending two years where you play 10, 15 minutes every week off the bench. I think that would have affected me long term.
‘I’m under no illusions that I’m not guaranteed to play with Limerick but my chances are higher here.
‘I have thought long and hard about this, I need to play games and show people what I can do.
‘I loved every minute of my time with Cork, myself and John (Caulfield) have a great relationship, it’s a fantastic club and it was a privilege to be part of it – but to take my career to the next step I need to get 20, 30 games under my belt this season and get more experience.’
Caulfield was keen to keep Ellis with City but he understands the reasons behind the want to move.
‘John has been great to me,’ he said.
‘Talks of the move went on for a few weeks, back and forth between the clubs.
‘John didn’t want me to go and I understand why, he gave me my senior debut, he has been a massive influence on my career, I have nothing but respect for him and I learned a lot from him.
‘But especially with John being a former striker himself, he knows how important it is to be playing and scoring goals.
‘Although he was disappointed, he wished me the best of luck and was really respectful.’
The former Bantry Bay striker has said goodbye to Champions League football with Cork City this season and is leaving a successful winning set-up behind him – but he wants to play.
When Limerick came calling, Ellis liked what he saw.
He knows new Blues manager Tommy Barrett from playing against his Limerick team at U19 level for several seasons, and Barrett liked what he saw of Ellis, too.
‘Tommy knows me, he has seen me play and he rates me; that was a big factor too in coming here,’ said Ellis, who made his first appearance in a 0-0 friendly draw against Galway United last weekend.
‘I feel it’s a good fit for me, they have been interested in me the last year or two and now is the right time to come here.
‘I am only 20 years old. Over the next fears years I have a lot to learn and I think Limerick is the right place for me to continue to develop.’
Ellis points out that even though he has swapped Cork City for Limerick, he will still be playing in the same league against the same quality players with the big difference is that he hopes to get more minutes on the pitch.
‘I want to play as many games as I can and score as many goals as I can this season. If that helps Limerick succeed and get points on the board and have a good season, then everyone will be delighted,’ said Ellis, as the next stage in his career takes its first steps, a move he feels he has to make to improve.