It has been a frustrating, yet valuable, two years of learning for Conor Crowley since he made his attempt to make the jump from the under-19 National League to the senior League of Ireland set-up.
After starring in a number of underage UCD side’s – teams that have since seen a number go on to play in crucial under-21 internationals – Crowley has had limited chances in recent years.
Once of the fabled Cherry Orchard schoolboy pipeline – the 21-year-old joined UCD in 2015 where he went on to enjoy a successful spell with the Students under-19 side.
He then left UCD to join southside rivals Cabinteely midway through the 2019 season, where he also found chances limited – before Brian O’Sullivan’s re-emerging Wexford came calling during the off-season.
The Slaneysiders have brought in a number of players during the off-season, with O’Sullivan the latest attempt to bring good fortunes back to Ferrycarrig Park.
“I’ve had a frustrating last two years where I haven’t played as much as I would’ve liked to. Brian (O’Sullivan) gave me a call in early December, and he told me his plans for the next year, and the next two years,” Crowley told extratime.ie.
“He said if I played well, if I gave 100%, I would have a good chance of playing regularly week in, week out.
“So that was my main motive for joining Wexford to be honest with the opportunity to play as many games as possible and make a reputation for myself in the league,” he added.
Like so many of his peers in the League of Ireland who began their League of Ireland careers within the halls of Belfield, the former Templeogue United schoolboy said; “I had an unbelievable few years at under-19s with UCD with Ian Ryan the manager during the first year.
“My second year with the 19s I played with Maciej Tarnogrodzki and I played in Europe which was a great experience. I was also involved with the first team that year.
“I then moved up to the first-team and there was players ahead of me – in the likes of Gary O’Neill, Greg Sloggett and Timmy Molloy who were all experienced players in the League.
“It was hard to get in front of them, but I probably still developed as a player – training with those players every week.
“Gary and Greg were obviously there for two or three years before I moved up into the first-team. They’re very good players, and the teams that they are at now show that.
“I was probably unlucky that I couldn’t get a break at the time because we were winning games, at the top of the table so I probably couldn’t show what I was able to do,” he added.
“There’s no doubt about it that UCD have probably set me up for the future in terms of, I got a good development as a footballer, but I also got a scholarship and then I got a degree.
“I’m in a good position now outside of football so hopefully I can develop my career inside of football.”
After his stint with UCD, where he remains studying his masters in Sports and Exercise Management, he made the move to Cabinteely – who themselves were gunning for top-flight promotion.
“I moved in the summer, and obviously I hadn’t played for UCD and Cabinteely were on a good run of form.
“They went eight, nine or ten games unbeaten so it was obviously hard to get into the side.
“Their style of play probably didn’t suit the way I wanted to play – it was a bit of both really.
“The type of player I am, and the run the team were on meant it was probably hard for Pat (Devlin) to change what was working for him at the time.”
But for now, a blank canvas awaits the dynamic midfielder at Ferrycarrig Park – a prospect that he has been left excited by.
“I was with UCD at the time they won the league, so I know what it’s like with the pressure we were under and what it takes to win games under pressure.
“I was obviously with Cabinteely when we got to the Playoffs as well, and I was around the dressing room when they were winning games against the teams around them.
“Hopefully I can bring that experience to Wexford if we get three or four more new additions.
“We’ve had four or five sessions so far. It has been of a pretty good standard. There has been a lot of players in, the manager has obviously had a look at who he wants to sign.
“We haven’t had a formal discussion really yet about it but as a player, promotion is obviously the ambition and obviously if we bring in three or four more new players with the players, we’ve got we can hopefully go on a run next season.”