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Dublin: 14°C Tuesday 22 September 2020

'The last couple of seasons didn’t really go as well as I would’ve liked'

Robbie McCourt on disappointing stints at West Brom and Bohs, and a new start with Waterford.

Robbie McCourt pictured at the League of Ireland's media launch day.
Robbie McCourt pictured at the League of Ireland's media launch day.
Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

ROBBIE MCCOURT IS not afraid to admit he’s had a disappointing time of late.

A product of the St Kevin’s Boys youth system, the midfielder spent three years at underage level at West Brom, before opting to come home in the summer of 2018.

At Bohs, he found first-team opportunities increasingly hard to come by, with players like Conor Levingston frequently preferred in midfield.

Having briefly represented Tolka Rovers, in the off-season, he agreed to join Waterford, who have been busy this summer.

While contemplating moving to a new League of Ireland club during the break, he worked in a job with DataCables.

“It obviously wasn’t what I wanted to do, I was just doing it because I had to really,” he tells The42.

“Then I didn’t know whether to get back into the league or not. But then when Rennie [Waterford boss Alan Reynolds] called me, there was only one thing on my mind.”

There has been much change at the Blues. Graham Cummins, Sam Bone, Tadgh Ryan, Kevin O’Connor, Scott Allardice and Tyreke Wilson are among the new recruits. Meanwhile, Shane Duggan, Rory Feely, Walter Figueira, Georgie Poynton, JJ Lunney, Zachary Elbouzedi, John Kavanagh and Kenny Browne are just some of the players to depart.

With other new arrivals having been deemed surplus to requirements at previous clubs, McCourt will not be the only one plying his trade at the RSC who feels he has a point to prove.

“Last season probably didn’t go the way that I would’ve liked it, but Alan Reynolds got in touch with me during the break and he spoke highly of me and wanted me to come down, and hopefully I can get as much game time as I can. We’re a young team, and we’re all hungry, so hopefully we can get as much points on the board as we can.”

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And why did it not work out for McCourt at previous clubs?

I don’t know really, probably just managers’ opinions or managers’ choice of players. Hopefully this season goes well for me, because the last couple of seasons didn’t really go as well as I would’ve liked. But I’m working hard, we’re doing well in pre-season, we’ve got two wins and a draw. We got a draw at Shamrock Rovers and that was a really good game for us — hopefully we can continue that into the first league game of the season.”

McCourt, who can play in both defence and midfield, was encouraged by the words of Reynolds, who convinced him to sign.

“He just spoke highly of me, he said he watched me a few times last season and he really liked me. I knew some of the players he had with him last year, and then I spoke to both Zack Elbouzedi and Michael O’Connor and they had nothing but good words to say about [Alan], and so far, we’ve been working well together.”

McCourt’s bittersweet career trajectory could become a thing of the past for future young Irish footallers. The 21-year-old Dubliner moved to West Brom at 15, and came home after failing to establish himself at first-team level.

Should Brexit have the expected effect, Irish youngsters will be prevented from travelling to Britain until they turn 18 in future. 

It’s difficult, moving away so young, but it was a good experience, getting to play with Premier League players every day and train with the first team. So that’s probably the main thing I take out of it, getting a breakthrough didn’t work out, but it was still a really enjoyable time.

“I think [the potential Brexit rule is] not such a bad thing, the league is getting better and there’s more players coming back from England. So if you have young lads coming up and training with League of Ireland first teams, it can only help them, because there’s nothing more a young lad wants to do than play first-team football, whatever level it is.”

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About the author:

Paul Fennessy

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