Fifteen-year-old Ryan Rainey was at Molineux the weekend before last to sign the dotted line with Premier League Wolverhampton Wanderers.
A three-year contact - one-year scholarship with two years as a professional - awaits the St Eunan’s College Junior Certificate student, who will continue with his studies and play locally with Bonagee United, while his holidays from school will see him travel to the West Midlands to continue his education in the sport.
“I only found out last month Wolves were definitely going to sign me and I was delighted to hear the news,” Rainey said this week. “So I went over with my mum and dad to sign last week. It was their first time to go across but I’d been over four or five times and the club seems to be very well run with a nice friendly atmosphere.”
Rainey, one of six children of Victor and Pauline from Drumany, will become the latest in a production line from Donegal to join Wolves’ academy when he makes the move. He turns 16 in October and will make his way across the water the following summer, 2013.
Lorcan Keeney from Letterkenny, Ballybofey’s Johnny Dunleavy and Brian McGroary from Drimarone outside Donegal Town have all trodden a familiar path.
“I liked everything about Wolves from the start and thought it was the best option for me,” Rainey continued. “There were other offers, like one from Fulham but I met Irish internationals Stephen Ward and Stephen Hunt at Wolves and found Mick McCarthy to be a real gentleman and calm type of man. Molineux is also a really nice stadium and they’re working on it to make it even bigger.”
Capped at centre-back up to U-16 level with the Republic of Ireland under John Morling alongside St Eunan’s College colleagues Sean Hume and Christopher Flanagan, who plays for Letterkenny, and Swilly Rovers’ Jordan Toland, a student in Loreto Milford, all Rainey’s previous football came at his local club as a central midfielder.
“I’ve been with Bonagee United since I was six and won an All-Ireland First Year title with St Eunan’s College the year before last (defeating Cork’s Rochestown College 2-1 in the final in Athlone).
I’ll continue to play with Bonagee and St Eunan’s and will continue to study for my exams. It’s great to be signed and although I’ve always been a Manchester United fan I’ll certainly be keeping an eye on ho Wolves are getting on.”