New Derry City Women defender Claire Rooney has explained how boss Ryan McConville was the decisive factor in her decision to join the club.
The Candystripes have made multiple additions over the summer months including Ellie Redden and Eva Ferguson (both Foyle Belles) alongside Erin Coyle (Sligo Rovers) and Loren Smallwood (Sion Swifts Ladies).
Rooney has also joined, alongside her close friend and long-time teammate Kerry Taggart, from Lisburn Ladies – and their association with McConville played a big part in the decision.
“Ryan was key for us in the move because we had both played under him at Lurgan,” Rooney explained. “I had previously played for him at Loughgall when he was starting out in coaching.
“Since those days, me and Kerry had kept a good friendship with him and what he has gone on to achieve speaks for itself. Ryan is still relatively new to Derry too and he knows how to improve every team at this level.
“Me and Kerry made the decision to make the move together – we have been close throughout our career and we thought that this was the ideal time to join Derry. We had both moved together to Lisburn from Cliftonville, and from Lurgan to the Reds before that – we have always been close.”
Rooney was one of six debutants for Derry last week, with her first Danske Bank Women’s Premiership appearance for her new club ironically pitting her against former side Lisburn Ladies.
“That is a big number of debutants for any team to make in one game, so a draw was a great result in that context,” she added. “None of us had played together before in a competitive match so to get a point and keep a clean sheet was a real positive.
“These games against the likes of Lisburn and Mid Ulster are so important for us as it’s like a mini league whereby we are competing against sides who are at a similar level. It’s important as well for the girls confidence levels because you are going into games thinking that we can win these ones and it is a different mentality.
“Most other games in this league are against international players and it is completely natural you will be huge outsiders in those matches, so the balance is important.”
Rooney combines her football career with studying nursing and her job as a care assistant in Craigavon but is planning on travelling more frequently to Derry to bond with her new teammates.
The experienced defender’s career has encompassed spells at Loughgall, Mid Ulster, Cliftonville and Lisburn, prior to her move to Derry – and she has seen the improvements within women’s football at first hand across that time.
“It is a really exciting time to be involved in the women’s game, the standard has gone up so much and there is so much more publicity now – that is great for the players,” she added.
“Every season you are seeing more supporters at matches and the standard on and off the pitch is so much better now.
“Clubs are now giving their girls teams the facilities, the pitches and what they need for training – and the standards will continue to rise.”
Next up for McConville’s side is a home clash against another one of Rooney’s former clubs, as they host Cliftonville Ladies on Wednesday at the Brandywell.