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McCourt detour to Tolka works

'I was on good money in UK, you can be a bit stupid with money and not think of future'

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Robbie McCourt is hoping his move to Waterford works out

Robbie McCourt is hoping his move to Waterford works out

SPORTSFILE

Robbie McCourt is hoping his move to Waterford works out

From earning what he has admitted was "stupid money" at a Premier League club to playing non-league football in his native Dublin at weekends and working on building sites by day, Robbie McCourt has seen a few sides to life.

And as the 21-year-old prepares to embark on a fresh start, effectively his third chance at a career in Ireland, he says the desire to bring him back up the ladder is strong enough to make it happen.

Much was expected of McCourt when he joined Bohemians midway through the 2018 season, the midfielder coming with a good pedigree from his spells with St Kevin's Boys, West Brom and Ireland's underage teams.

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His first season at Bohs was about settling in, last season should have seen him go centre stage ... but the 2019 campaign was a struggle and he left Bohs, to join Tolka Rovers, before the season's end, frustrated with the lack of game-time.

"It's a downward curve, the route I took, I know that. But I just wanted to get back enjoying my football again," McCourt says of his move to Waterford.

"I didn't have the best of seasons last year. I just wanted to get that enjoyment back.

"When I was at Bohs it was the manager's choice who he played, I thought I did well in the games I played.

"It was a hard squad to break into but it just didn't work out for me there. I wasn't playing, I didn't really want to be there. It was't working out and Keith Long was happy to let me go."

McCourt found himself playing for Tolka Rovers. "I only had five or six games for Tolka and it went well, I think I scored nine goals or something like that. I really went there for my fitness but I enjoyed it," he says.

"It was a drop down, I think the first game for Tolka was against Corduff... but I scored anyway. I am back in the league now and hopefully this season goes well for me."

It was a wake-up call, reminding him of what he once had while on the books of WBA, at the time a Premier League club.

"I had things good in England, I was on good money, you can be a bit stupid with money and not think of the future, I am home now and I don't have that sort of money any more but I'd like to think I am a bit smarter with the money I have," he says.

"A few players have dropped into the non-league after playing in the League of Ireland or in England and did ok. But I knew I was better than that level. That was my main thing, I started working while I was there and I just thought to myself 'this isn't what I want to do'.

"It was hard work, with a cabling company, pulling cables and that sort of work - that maybe made me realise that football is the best job in the world.

"I didn't know where I was going in my career but Alan Reynolds rang me and asked me to come to Waterford. I enjoyed my time at Tolka Rovers and I can't say a bad word about them but, being honest, that wasn't the level of football I wanted to be at."

Having left Dublin at 15 to move to England, the 21-year-old is on the move again, having relocated to Waterford, where he shares a house with team-mates Mikey O'Connor and Tyreke Wilson.

In the last two seasons, Waterford have finished fourth and sixth, but with uncertainty over the loyalty of owner Lee Power to the club's project, before he decided to commit financially for another season, and massive changes in the squad, the 2020 campaign will be a test - of the side which played in the final game of last season, nine have since left the RSC.

"It's a big change at Waterford, a new squad," says McCourt.

"We need to click early but I think we have done that in pre-season.

"I think the players there will give everything for the club. I will do everything I can for the club to make this work, I won't give up, I never give up. It's a challenge as we are a young squad but we are hungry and we will give our all for the club, maybe get Europe, who knows?"