New Derry City signing, Michael Rafter, said that when he was aware of the club’s interest in him he wanted to come to come to the Brandywell.
The 20 year-old former Dundalk striker, signed a one year deal with the Candy Stripes at a press conference on Friday afternoon and said that he’s looking forward to the next chapter in his career.
“I first heard that Derry was interested in me a few weeks ago and the minute I heard that Derry was interested I held back on everything else because I was waiting on the move here to be honest,” said Rafter.
“I am delighted to sign for such a big club, they have such a great history. I am very happy to be here. They have already made some great signings during the off season and it looks like they are expanding things ahead of next year.
Rafter is from a small village called Glengoole just outside Thurles in County Tipperary. He played both hurling and Gaelic football for Gortnahoe-Glengoole GAA club until he was 16 years-old.
Rafter played an integral role in making sure Dundalk F.C. remained in the Airtricity Premier Division when he scored twice in the second leg of the promotion-relegation play-off against Waterford United.
The talented striker, coincidentally, scored his first goal for the ‘Lilywhites’ at the Brandywell last season; Dundalk went on to win the game 2-1.
“I am the kind of player that can come in and link the play up and I can play in behind too.
“I don’t tend to make big plans for myself. I just want to work hard and do my best for the team and then take it from there.
“In my position there are players like Rory Patterson and I don’t know what the situation is with David McDaid but there’s going to be tough competition for places. I think it’s good for the team that there will be competition for places because everyone is going to be trying their best to make sure that they are starting week in week out.”
Rafter already knows Derry City team mates Patrick McEleney and Shane McEleney from his time playing U17 and U19 football for the Republic of Ireland. He said that the fact he already knows a few players in the team will hopefully help him to settle into life so far away from home.
“Hopefully when I move up I will settle in to life in Derry quickly.
“It’s good that I know some of the lads already because it will certainly make it easier for me to perform.
“I definitely think that Derry can push on this year. If everyone is fit I think Derry will be strong next year and see us finishing well.”
Rafter reflected on Derry’s performance last season. He said he thought manager Declan Devine was unlucky with injuries. Rafter went on to say that now that Devine has already added midfielder Sean Houstan and winger Paddy Kavanagh to the team Derry City will compete for the league title next season.
“I know Derry won the FAI Cup last season but I think they will be looking to win the league next year. They were a match for any team last year but I have been told they sustained a few injuries during the season and they struggled.
“Hopefully if we all stay fit next season we will be able to better.”
Derry City director Peter Wallace said that he was delighted to welcome Rafter to the club and hinted that there could be another one or two new faces at the Brandywell before Christmas.
“Michael Rafter is a great addition to the squad. When we won the FAI Cup Declan Devine told us that he wanted to bring in some fresh faces so we sat down agreed a budget and here we are today, unveiling our third new signing of the off-season.
“It’s great that Michael has joined fellow new signings Sean Houstan and Paddy Kavanagh at the club and hopefully, if everything goes according to plan, Mark Griffin will be joining us too. Mark’s dying to come here and we are dying to have him but the deal is in Dundalk’s hands.”