The latest chapter in the life of Letterkenny native Ryan Rainey began on Tuesday as he attended the Wolverhampton Wanderers Academy for the first time.
Rainey turned 16 last Thursday and that enabled him to make the trip to the English midlands, having agreed to join the club from Bonagee United last December. He is one of six children of Victor and Pauline from Drumany.
“I arrived here on Monday and was doing strength work then on Tuesday,” Rainey said. “I’m living in digs with Anthony Forde from Limerick, who is in the first team here, and second year apprentice Gary O’Neill from Kerry.
“I’m just happy now the move is made and am looking forward to trying to do my best here.”
Rainey, who has a two-year- scholarship that will be followed by two years as a professional, will be lining up for the club’s U-16 side for the immediate future.
This Saturday morning at the Molineux club’s academy, Chelsea are the visitors in the Barclay’s U-16 Premier League.
“I met Stephen Hunt here the day I arrived and he was very helpful,” Rainey continued. “I will be training four days a week and then on a Wednesday, teachers come in from outside to teach us for our GSCEs. I’ll be taking English, Maths and Sports Science.
“We usually will play on a Saturday morning and if the first team have a home game we help out as either ballboys or programme sellers in the afternoon. I’ll get home to Donegal every two months or so, the next time being Christmas”
Since signing for Wolves before Christmas, Rainey completed his Junior Certificate at St Eunan’s College and earlier this month was part of the Republic of Ireland side that progressed to the Elite qualifying stage of the Uefa European U-17 Championships.
Both goalkeepers on the squad are Donegal men - Peter Burke from Moville is on the books of Sunderland and Buncrana’s Harry Doherty is with Charlton.
Rainey started left-back in the opening fixture, a 1-1 draw against Sweden in Skopje, Macedonia, but sustained a bruised shin and infected toe that prevented him from appearing in the final two group games.
However, the Irish side, managed by former Finn Harps midfielder Tom Mohan, then defeated hosts Macedonia 4-1 in the second outing. Jack Byrne was the Irish hero with a hat-trick, with Dan Cleary netting a second-half goal.
Then, Ireland beat Romania 2-0 to seal their progression. Dean O’Halloran had broken the deadlock before Cody Mulhall increased Ireland’s lead in the 56th minute.
“It was very hot over there,” Ryan said of Macedonia. “It was a little disappointing to get an injury and it’s almost cleared up now.
“The main thing is though we are in the next round and we will find out who we play when the draw is made in December.”