Fulham's Ollie O'Neill says progressive Derry City is perfect place to play

FULHAM's Ollie O'Neill says he 'couldn't think of a better place' than Derry City to play his football at this particular juncture of his promising career.
Watch more of our videos on Shots!
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now

The Ireland U21 international is highly regarded by his English Premier League parent club and reckons his six month loan spell at Brandywell is ideal for his development.

As an attack minded player, the 20 year-old is excited to play under Ruaidhri Higgins whose playing style was one of the biggest factors in his decision to join the Foylesiders.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"Obviously I knew a few of the boys here too," he explained. "I knew how good the side was and I like the style of play and the way the manager wants to play is impressive.

"It probably wouldn't suit me going to certain clubs which is fine. So coming to a club where you know you're going to play attacking football and get on the ball is very nice.

"And also, the city excites me. The stadium, the fans, as a whole I was looking at the club and thinking, I'd really love to play there."

He's clearly done his research on the club and the League of Ireland but he's been pleasantly surprised by the standards in training and having watched Derry's 2-0 President’s Cup win over Shamrock Rovers.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"I'm really excited. I've been here for three or four days now getting to know the lads and getting into training so everything's going well.

Derry City new signing Ollie O'Neill. Photo: George Sweeney. DER2308GS – 15Derry City new signing Ollie O'Neill. Photo: George Sweeney. DER2308GS – 15
Derry City new signing Ollie O'Neill. Photo: George Sweeney. DER2308GS – 15

"I know the league fairly well from playing with boys in the Ireland underage teams and playing with boys who play in it. I'd say physicality compared to playing U23s, there will be a difference.

“To be fair, I think sometimes people in Ireland slightly under rate the League of Ireland. I've been training here for three of four days and the level is really good. Obviously there are some seriously good players. I've been really quite impressed by the levels to be honest.”

Early signs would suggest he’s destined for bigger things in the future but for now O’Neill wants to make as big an impact as he can as Derry attempt to challenge for honours.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"I'm focussed on the here and now and I couldn't think of a better place, a better manager and coaching staff to be playing for at the minute so it's kind of all set up and it's just up to me to take it.

"I don't want to set a limit to where I get to, it's one step at a time. For now, I'm excited for this challenge at Derry.”

Don’t be fooled by the strong London accent, O’Neill is very much of Irish descent. His mother hails from Galway and his father from Waterford and he’s proud of his Irish heritage.

"I probably had a pretty classic London-Irish upbringing and background story,” he explained.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"Basically my four grandparents were over and back at different times. So I have family in Waterford and Galway and Kerry. Dad's family are from Waterford and mum's family are living in Galway at the moment.

“So I lived in London with my mum and dad and brothers and sisters. Spent probably two months a year in Galway every summer and was in Waterford for a bit so i do that for about 15 or 16 years.

"I haven't been there loads since I've started playing but my grandparents are in Galway so I get there a fair bit.”

O’Neill stole the headlines with a superb stoppage time winner against Sweden in the U21 Euro Championship qualifiers last year and he's relishing this latest chapter in his career where he can play regular senior football and enhance his international prospects.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“There’s a big campaign coming up (2025 European Championship qualifiers) and the draw came out the other day.

“So it’s going to be exciting. It all sort of comes together a bit doesn’t it? So I'd say my next few months will be interesting. I’m looking forward to it.”