DERRY CITY fans owe a debt of gratitude to Jamie McDonagh’s three year-old son, Layton, for ensuring the talented winger committed his immediate future to the Brandywell club.
The 23 year-old Lisburn man, who has made 73 appearances for the Candy Stripes since arriving in December 2017, admits he came close to severing ties with the club and joining League of Ireland rivals, St Patrick’s Athletic.
An easier commute from his home to Dublin via the M1, car-sharing with his good pal, ex-Derry City striker, Ronan Hale and of course an enticing financial package made a move to Richmond Park slightly more attractive.
However, pleas from Derry City supporters on social media, an improved offer and several touching, persuasive conversations with one of the club’s youngest fans ultimately swayed his decision in favour on remaining on Foyleside for another year.
“There were times I was sitting in my car with Layton, my son, and I was so indecisive at times,” explained McDonagh. “So I would say to him, ‘Will I go back to Derry or will I go to St Pat’s?’ and he just used to sing ‘Derry City’. He just comes out with it randomly,” he laughed.
”Definitely, he helped make my decision as well. Any time he sees a football or a football badge he would shout ‘Derry City’. He realises I play for Derry and he comes and watches all the matches. He understands it now.
“So, had I gone and played for someone else it would’ve been weird for him. I’m happy to get it done and I know Layton will be happy as well.”
Layton, who has recovered from a head injury following a fall earlier this year, was a regular at Derry’s home matches during the 2019 campaign alongside Jamie’s girlfriend, Sophie, and often performed mascot duties.
His family were at the forefront of his thoughts when it came to making his next move and Jamie explained how the close season can be an extremely difficult time for out of contract players, particularly those who have young children to look after.
And while he may have been on the verge of signing for the Saints, Jamie believes he would have regretted leaving Derry after two and a half years at Brandywell.
“In terms of the situation the boys in Ireland are in, it’s quite difficult this time of the year. It’s a lot more difficult for people who have got families like myself.
“They came up here most of the year last season. They came up for every home game. I needed to make a decision which suited them for next year as well.
“During the Christmas period it’s hard, you don’t have money and it’s just difficult to get by sometimes. There’s ways of getting through that and I’ve done that. I’ve put money away for my child and stuff.
“So I’m really happy to get the deal done. There was a few times where I thought I was gone myself and I had made my mind up. Thankfully Derry came back with a better offer and I didn’t want to turn them down.
“It wasn’t just the offer which made me sign, it was what I’ve done for the club and what the club is about. I know everything about it.
“Even the fans, I seen a few things on social media and how the fans were reacting to the speculation of me leaving and I had a few text messages from people from Derry.
“It’s a real family club and they made me change my mind in the end. There was a lot of things I needed to take into consideration and I did that. I took my time, made my mind up and I would have regretted it if I had of turned Derry down in the near future.
“I’m delighted to be here and there’s no regrets whatsoever.
“I think what Derry are trying to do this year, it was too hard to leave that. I want to push this club on and be part of something special.
“We want to push the top two next year. I don’t want to be fighting for third or fourth every year. I’ve come here because I want to push on and get better and make the squad stronger and I think we can do that next year.”