When Roy O’Donovan signed for the Newcastle Jets prior to the Hyundai A-League 2017/18 season, much was made about his first match for the Club being against #F3Derby rivals, Central Coast Mariners.
Given he’d defected and moved up the road, it seemed only fair for the Gosford faithful to want to give the Irishman who they’d cheered on for the past two seasons plenty.
Unfurling a banner which depicted the striker as a snake and booing his every backfired spectacularly on those in navy and yellow however, as O’Donovan went on to score a first-half hattrick in a 5-1 demolition of our biggest rivals.
With a little over two seasons past, O’Donovan has once again signed with Newcastle and his first game back in red and blue looks set to be, once again, against the Central Coast Mariners.
“I’m ready to go. I was ready for [Saturday’s] game, unfortunately the transfer went through so late that we couldn’t get it done, but I’m buzzing for my first game which could be the Mariners next week,” O’Donovan said, speaking with newcastlejets.com.au.
“It’s great to be back home, and I just can’t wait to get going.”
It was an 11th hour deal on deadline day which saw the striker re-join Newcastle, a town and a Club which O’Donovan readily calls home.
He made it his home too. 20 goals in 35 appearances put him as the Newcastle’s equal-second highest ever Hyundai A-League goalscorer, with the best goals-to-games ratio of any Jets player in the Club’s history.
Announced just prior to midnight on the evening the window was set to slam shut, it’s a move that didn’t come out of thin air but instead one that had been a possibility for a few weeks.
Whilst a chance of happening throughout January, things didn’t really get going until late Thursday which led to a Friday that O’Donovan described as ‘a hectic 12 hours’. At 11.50pm on Friday night, the deal was done.
Set to join the boys for training on Monday, O’Donovan has been keeping a close eye on affairs in Newcastle.
With six goals in nine starts at Brisbane to his name, the deadly striker comes in fit, in good touch, and ready to help bag a couple in Jets colours.
“I’ll be pushing next week as hard as I can, and we’ll see what happens. I hope to play, like I have every week in my career. I can’t wait for Monday now, to put some effort in and get ready for the weekend,” O’Donovan said.
“I’ve watched very closely, and I think the last four or five weeks the energy, the want to play good football, has been there. I know it’s a cliché, but I think they’ve been very unlucky.
“Taking an early chance here or there is the difference between a lot more points on the table, but I’m watching again today [against Western United] and I don’t think the lads are too far away. I think I’ve signed on to something good, and onwards and upwards.”
The return of O’Donovan to the Newcastle Jets brings the Club’s Irish contingent to three as he joins Wes Hoolahan and Bobby Burns.
Hoolahan and O’Donovan have crossed paths before – they played against one another while in the Irish Premier Division, and with one another at different levels for the Republic Ireland national team.
An Irish infiltration of that magnitude might require a translator or two, with O’Donovan joking that “once we get in and we start breeding, there’s no turning back”, but the striker thinks it can only have a positive impact on the side.
“Australians and Irish have similar qualities and respect similar qualities in people that get stuck in, give their all, and don’t moan and whinge,” O’Donovan said.
“This Club is all about good culture. Bringing the lads in, they have to be good boys, the dressing room that I went into just before was full of energy, it was bouncing, and that’s a Club and a team that is going through a sticky patch.
“Once you come out of that sticky patch, there are a lot of good things there and the culture will bring you through that every time.”
And when asked if he had a message for Jets fans, O'Donovan had this to say.
“I’m coming back to finish the job I started a few years ago. I want to score more goals, I want more success here, and I think that by the time I’m finished here in Newcastle we’ll have been a lot more successful than we have been of late. I can’t wait to crack on now, starting with Mariners next weekend.”