Rochdale winger Donal McDermott: The Irishman’s rise, fall and resurrection

When Donal McDermott signed for Northern Premier League outfit Salford City FC in January this year his football league career looked over.

Fast-forward just eight months and the Irishman is enjoying life back in The Football League with League One highfliers Rochdale.

The 25-year-old spoke with honesty earlier this year when asked why his undoubted talent wasn’t being fulfilled.

McDermott said: “It’s my own fault, I wasn’t living right – but since I’ve got this opportunity I’ve been trying to change the way I live and just enjoy football.”

Since making his Spotland debut, the diminutive winger has been a constant thorn in the side of opposition defences this campaign, netting twice in the process.

This is a significant achievement considering he spent the end of last season plying his trade at Northern Premier League side Ramsbottom United following an unsuccessful stint with Salford.

McDermott began his career as a trainee at Manchester City where he enjoyed several successful loan spells, most notably at Chesterfield and AFC Bournemouth.

This prompted promotion chasing League One side Huddersfield Town to bring the winger to West Yorkshire but he struggled to make an impression.

A similarly disappointing return Bournemouth came next before heading back to his native Ireland to help Dundalk claim their tenth League of Ireland crown.

A year in the footballing wilderness followed, with the Dublin-born winger working in a job outside of football during his spells at Salford and Ramsbottom.

McDermott says that experience has made him even hungrier to succeed this time round: “I needed to realise how tough it is to get back in and how lucky you are to be in it in the first place.

“I needed to come away from it because I think I was too comfortable playing in the league.”

Rochdale manager Keith Hill, who handed McDermott a one-year deal in May, showed enormous faith in handing the Irishman a second chance in league football, dubbing him: “a special, special talent.”

Hill went on to say: “He had missed his way but he’s found himself and he’s driven.

“He wants to put into practice the losses of the last two or three years where he’s not really made the most of his ability.

“What we’ve seen since he has been at the football club is desire and a real focus on not losing anymore football time.”

It’s fair to say that the former Manchester City trainee has certainly made up for lost time so far this season, something he will be desperate to continue this Saturday when Rochdale travel to Burton Albion.

Image courtesy of Official Rochdale AFC via YouTube, with thanks.

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