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Cockerill-Mollett reflects on his season of achievement

16 May 2017

The 18-year-old was not only named Apprentice of the Year at Walsall FC’s end-of-season awards ceremony at the Banks’s Stadium, but Cockerill-Mollett received international honours when called up for the Republic of Ireland’s under-18s for the recent Slovakia Cup.

That came just months after the young left-back made two appearances for the Saddlers in the Checkatrade Trophy, his first appearance coming at the end of August in the 5-2 win over Grimsby Town just weeks after signing his first professional deal.

With the Development Squad, Cockerill-Mollett lifted the Walsall Senior Cup as well as winning the Central League North West Division title.

It hasn’t been a bad season, all told, for the dynamic defender - but how does he see it?

“I feel I’ve had a good season and it’s gone as well as can be expected,” said the youngster.

“I didn’t expect to be named Apprentice of the Year for League One, or to be named in the Ireland squad.

“(Playing for Ireland) was something new but I really enjoyed it.

“It was a really good experience to play against world-class players - some of the best.

“It was very similar to football in the first-team - you didn’t have a moment’s rest and you’re constantly checking over your shoulders.

“The players were that agile and quick and you had to really be up to it.

“I thought I performed quite well - we kept a few clean sheets and did well.

“There were four games in five days, which is quite a hard schedule. 

“I came on at half-time in the first game and played 90 minutes in the net two. We had a squad of around 20.

“I played a lot and got a much different perspective on football. The Irish gaffer Jim Crawford had more of a defensive mindset than attacking.”

And Cockerill-Mollett’s international exploits were followed closely by his teammates - including fellow Irish youth-team international Liam Kinsella - as well as Manager Jon Whitney, Professional Development Coach John Ward and Academy Manager Graham Biggs.

“The lads were all really interested in how I got on,” added Cockerill-Mollett. 

“Kins (Liam Kinsella) gave me a little bit of advice, just telling me to enjoy it and show what I can do.

“John and Graham have been crucial. Graham picked me up in the late under-15s and has been the key man for me.

“He made me skipper and kept me in with the first team constantly, and must have given some good feedback about me.

“John Ward, since he came in, has been really great and he’s been the link between the gaffer and the youth team, and the manager has been really good with me this season.”


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