Saturday 24 March 2018

Joey's joy with deal at Rovers

(l-r) Joey O'Brien is pictured with Shamrock Rovers manager Stephen Bradley after signing a deal with the Hoops
(l-r) Joey O'Brien is pictured with Shamrock Rovers manager Stephen Bradley after signing a deal with the Hoops

Joey O'Brien says he's delighted to become the latest ex-Ireland player to end up in the Hoops of Shamrock Rovers.

The last few seasons, Rovers have been able to lure Damien Duff, Stephen McPhail and Keith Fahey to the club.

And while the international career of midfielder O'Brien was limited to just five senior caps, the 31-year-old is a real addition to the squad for the 2018 season.

O'Brien has been out of the game for almost two years, as his last outing was back in February 2016, for West Ham in a Premier League win over Liverpool.

But the former Bolton star, having battled his way back from serious injury, believes he can contribute at Rovers, on and off the field, O'Brien already embedded with Rovers as he's in Portugal with them this week for a pre-season tournament.

"Going back over the last few years, if I could have come back home and played in Ireland it was always going to be for Rovers," says O'Brien.

"Hopefully the way I go about training and off the pitch as well, some of the younger lads can learn from working with me. I was moving back home with my family so it was a logical thing - I support Shamrock Rovers. I've been to Rovers-Bohs games over the years as a supporter in the Rovers end, so it'll be nice to be out there playing.

"I wanted to get playing and come back here. This is the place to be," he added.

O'Brien was in his teens when he made his Premier League debut with Bolton, in 2005, and he really made a breakthrough in the 2005/06 season, making 34 appearances for Bolton (including a run in the UEFA Cup) and he also made his senior Ireland debut.

He then suffered the first of his serious knee injuries, keeping him out of action for 16 months but the Dubliner was sidelined again in October 2008. He battled back from injury and joined West Ham in 2011, going on to make 91 league appearances for the Hammers.

O'Brien's most recent link with the game was a spell training with his first club, Bolton, last September, but he has now opted to return home to Dublin.

"I'm buzzing to be here and get going. It happened over a short period of time, I made contact with the club and luckily it got over the line," O'Brien said.

"It's been a while since I played in matches. I've put in a lot of hours into getting to this situation."

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