Limerick’s newest arrival Kilian Cantwell knows the importance of “hitting the ground running” when they kick off their 2018 SSE Airtricity League Premier Division season next week, with the young defender determined to nail down a regular place.
The 22-year-old has made over 50 appearances in the top flight over the past two seasons between Galway United and Finn Harps, and the Kilkenny native is pleased to have been given the opportunity to continue his career at this level, after penning a contract with the Shannonsiders on Thursday afternoon.
Cantwell was disappointed to have been unable to prevent Finn Harps from relegation last term. But he feels he is constantly maturing as a player and has his sights set on further improvement in the year ahead, where he has Tony Whitehead, Darren Dennehy and Killian Brouder as his main competition at the heart of the defence.
“I’m delighted to get it done. I was in training and then I played a friendly against Shelbourne; that went well, and I decided then that here was for me,” Cantwell told LimerickFC.ie.
“I’m ready to go now for next week. There is a very positive attitude in the dressing-room and the boys all seem to be buzzing for the first game in Sligo. It should be a top priority for every footballer to play in the Premier Division. You want to play at the highest level that you can. I’m really enjoying playing at this level and it’s great to be at it again.”
On the competition he faces within the squad, Kilian added: “You have to learn from the other centre-halves. You concentrate on what you’re good at but you always have to work on your weaknesses – it’s the same with everyone else. Right now, I’m just trying to work on myself.
“I’m hoping to fit into the team, whether it’s right-back, left-back or centre-half. I’m going to push myself and hopefully do enough to get into the starting 11.”
Limerick face a difficult task on opening day as they make the trip to Sligo Rovers at The Showgrounds on Saturday week, 17 February, the first of potentially eight competitive games in 28 days.
“If you don’t hit the ground running you’re going to be down at the bottom of the league. You need a good start,” Cantwell said. “You can’t hide with ten teams. We need to give the fans something to watch and take it from there. If we’re positive, everyone else will be.”
On his newest recruit, manager Tommy Barrett said: “We’re delighted to get Kilian on board. We have been looking to add defenders to the squad and Kilian fits the bill for us.
“He has four years’ experience in the League of Ireland and has played a lot of games in the Premier Division over the last couple of seasons. He’s still only 22, he’s keen, hungry and he’s willing to work hard, so it’s great to get him in.”
Cantwell – who began his senior League of Ireland career at 18 with Wexford Youths in 2014 before playing for Galway and Finn Harps – will wear squad number 3 this season.