Friday 28 October 2016

The waiting game finally pays off for patient Aberdeen hopeful Adam Rooney

Dubliner Adam Rooney
Dubliner Adam Rooney

In Ireland terms, time has stood still for Dubliner Adam Rooney for half a decade.

But on the back of a successful spell in Scotland with an in-form Aberdeen side, the forward is back on the scene with the boys in green and is in the frame for a senior debut in the upcoming Euro 2016 qualifiers against Gibraltar and Georgia.

The Georgia game next Monday will be the fifth anniversary of his last outing in a Irish jersey, when he played in Turkey for the U21s alongside future senior stars like Seamus Coleman.

Brady and Coleman now have 42 senior caps between them while Rooney has yet to play a single minute of international football - and given the striking options available to Martin O'Neill for Friday's test in Portugal, Rooney could even miss out on a seat on the plane to the Algarve, as Martin O'Neill admits that all of his 24-strong squad cannot be accommodated on that trip and someone could be left at home to train in Dublin ahead of next week's game against the Georgians.

Some of those in Rooney's circle could argue it would be no bad thing if he was left at home, as his wife, Rachel, is due to give birth in the next fortnight. "She's probably not the best for timing," Rooney jokes. "We just hope the baby doesn't come early now."

But for the 27-year-old, even being in the senior squad after close calls in the past (he was on stand-by previously) is a boost and payback for the hard work he's put in, in a career which has seen him play across all divisions in England (bar the Premier League) and the top two divisions in Scotland.

"As you get older, you're probably going past the chance of getting the opportunity but thankfully things have gone well for me lately, I've scored goals and it's up to me to make an impression in training," said Rooney, who earned his summons this time on the back of some great form with Aberdeen.

His career, which began at Stoke City as a teenager, was really going nowhere in his time at Oldham, before a move to the Dons in 2014 saw things pick up and he admits he has taken a scenic route to the Ireland squad with stops at places like Chesterfield, Bury, Swindon and Inverness.


"I've had a good last 18 months since going to Aberdeen. It's gone very well, I've scored a lot of goals and we've managed to pick up our standards. I'm happy with how it's gone," he says.

Celtic's John Collins recently bemoaned the standard of the SPL, words that came back to haunt him as the Bhoys failed to make the group stages of the Champions League, but Scotland has suited Rooney, and the success of his club last season in giving Celtic a run for their money in the title race, and also this season, backs up Rooney's theory that the SPL was a good place for him to go - this call-up would hardly have come his way if he'd stayed on a League One level.

"There's a lot of Irish strikers doing well and scoring goals in the leagues. It's important that you're playing every week. It's a benefit I have, I'm feeling sharp by playing every week and scoring. My confidence is up," says the Dubliner, pleased with the Dons' start to the new term with five straight wins.

"I think it's the first time since Aberdeen last won the league in the 1980s. It's been a good start, we just have to make sure we continue it," he added.

Rooney made the provisional squad for the June matches but was left out when O'Neill trimmed down his panel. "Because I was cut from it before, I half expected it may happen again. But I've managed to be included," he says.

"To be fair, he [O'Neill] rang me and said 'look you've had a great season but just missed out this time and we'll keep you on the radar and hopefully get you in the next squad.'

"I've started the season well and managed to get in, so I'm delighted."

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