Shane O’Rouke became the fourth right-back from St Catherine’s in Killybegs to appear in the League of Ireland after his debut for Salthill Devon on Friday night.
O’Rourke played in the Galway side’s 3-2 win over Wexford Youths at Drom.
The 19-year-old joins Seamus Coleman, Jason Noctor and Shaun Kelly, while fellow defenders David Conwell, Hugh McFadden and Declan Boyle all graduated Emerald Park to perform at senior level.
O’Rourke last played for his local team, who are managed by Brian Dorrian, at the end of the 2011/12 season when they were promoted from the Milford Inn Division One as runners-up to Rathmullan Celtic.
O’Rourke spent last year at Sligo Rovers and helped the Yeats County club to the U-19 Championship Northern Section title in February but was released by the Showgrounds side thereafter.
“It was great to get my first game under my belt,” O’Rourke said. “It was a good battle and we were glad to get the three points. I signed here after the deadline in February so had to wait to June before I got to play so was delighted with the chance when it came.”
A computer science student in NUI Galway, O’Rourke had been training with Mervue United whilst still playing for Sligo before signing for Salthill. He is the nephew of Donegal’s 1992 All-Ireland winning defender Barry McGowan and O’Rourke’s father Lochlann was on the books of Finn Harps and is currently a coach at St Catherine’s.
O’Rourke played Gaelic football for his local club as a full-forward to minor level last year but opted to concentrate on soccer after his team were eliminated from the club championship by Naomh Conaill.
“The whole thing about the club here is that we give opportunities to people,” Salthill coach John Brennan said in Galway on Friday. “It was the same with Shane O’Rourke today. Shane has come in there and he performed really well and I’m well happy with him.”
O’Rourke joins some illustrious company. Centre-back Boyle played for Finn Harps in 1992 prior to having spells at Sligo Rovers, Celtic and Derry City. He captain Harps to the 2004 First Division title.
Conwall, who is back at St Catherine’s made his one and only Harps appearance in November 2003 away to Cobh Ramblers at left-back, while Everton’s Coleman, the current Republic of Ireland right-back, first played for Sligo against Derry City in a 2006 FAI Cup semi-final replay.
Noctor also represented Sligo having made his debut on the first day of the 2009 Premier Division season against Shamrock Rovers in Tallaght before making his way back to Killybegs and Kelly, who had been on the books of Heart of Midlothian in Scotland, first featured for Dundalk in 2010. Having also lined out for Galway United, he is currently on the books of Premier Division Limerick FC.
McFadden, a central defender, is currently with Sligo Rovers having made his league debut for Finn Harps against Athlone Town two years ago.
“We’ve plenty of defenders in Killybegs,” O’Rourke continued. “I’d know them all from Killybegs and St Catherine’s.”