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Waterford snap up highly-rated ex-Kildare footballer for Premier Division return

Versatile 21-year-old Rory Feely has joined the Blues from St Patrick’s Athletic for the 2018 season.

Rory Feely in action for St Patrick's Athletic and Kildare.
Rory Feely in action for St Patrick's Athletic and Kildare.
Image: INPHO

WATERFORD HAVE MADE Rory Feely their latest addition as they prepare for life back in the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division.

The Blues, who’ll begin their 2018 campaign by welcoming Derry City to the RSC on 16 February, have returned to the top tier of Irish football after winning the First Division title last season.

The signing of Feely brings to 16 the number of players contracted to Alan Reynolds’ first-team squad, who commence pre-season training this week.

Feely, who can play as a central defender or in midfield, turns 21 today. The Kildare man, who lived in Waterford until the age of 12, moves to the RSC from St Patrick’s Athletic.

“I am very happy to link up with Waterford FC ahead of the new season,” he said. “I’m originally from Tramore so I have grown up with the Blues as my local League of Ireland club. I kept a keen eye last season during the promotion push and I now hope to be a part of something big for the club going forward.

“I worked with Alan [Reynolds] at St Pat’s and enjoyed the way he works, so when there was interest shown I was very happy to join. I am looking forward to competing for a starting place and being part of a competitive team at the top end of the table.”

He added: “As a player, I’ve been tried in a few positions over the last couple of seasons, primarily due to my aerial ability, but hopefully Blues’ fans will see me deployed in a more attacking role where I feel most comfortable. Ultimately, I just want to work hard and break into the team early on.”

Feely was part of the St Pat’s side who were crowned League of Ireland U19 champions in 2015. After breaking into Liam Buckley’s first team, he went on to make 42 appearances for the Inchicore outfit and attracted interest from recently-crowned Premier Division and FAI Cup winners Cork City in 2017.

He’s now focusing on soccer despite being a promising Gaelic footballer with Kildare. Feely scored 1-1 against Dublin in the Leinster minor semi-final as the Lilywhites went on to become provincial champions in 2015, before losing an All-Ireland semi-final to Tipperary.

The Athy footballer also featured for his county in the 2016 Leinster U21 football decider, which Kildare lost to the Dubs by a goal after extra-time. His older brother, Kevin, is a current member of the Kildare senior panel, having previously played professional soccer in the UK for the likes of Newport County and Carlisle United.

Giving his reaction to Waterford’s signing of Rory Feely, head coach Alan Reynolds said: “We’re delighted to have Rory on board. He is another young player with plenty of scope for development and one that I worked with when coaching at St Patrick’s Athletic.

“He has an excellent attitude and hopefully as a club we can push him on to achieve his full potential.”

Feely is Waterford’s sixth new signing for 2018, following the additions of goalkeeper Niall Corbet (UCD), defender Dave Webster (Shamrock Rovers), midfielders Bastien Hery (Limerick) and Gavan Holohan (Galway United), and striker Izzy Akinade (Bohemians).

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Paul Dollery

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