The Player, the person – Roy O’Donovan


Nothing is guaranteed in football and circumstances can change at the drop of a hat.

Roy O’Donovan knows this all too well.

Leaving his hometown of Cork, O’Donovan was set for a promising life in the Premier League.

A big money move to Sunderland to play under local legend Roy Keane looked to be the perfect start to a bright career.

But through what can only be described as a series of unfortunate events, a change in managers spelled the end for O’Donovan.

Roy Keane Out. Steve Bruce In.

O’Donovan notched up 20 appearances for the Black Cats before a changing of the guard left him out of favour with the new manager.


“There were management changes, styles changes,” O’Donovan said.

“Steve Bruce came in and he wanted to play a different style of football and wanted a different type of player.

“That left me on the outside looking in.”

From there, O’Donovan lived an unsettled life, loaned out to multiple clubs across England.

“It was quite a nomadic experience,” he said.

“When you go on loan short term to clubs for two months or three months, either they’re not invested in you long term, or you’re not invested in them.”

The experience was a shock to O’Donovan who enjoyed such a successful start to his footballing career in Ireland.

A Cork local, O’Donovan grew up supporting Cork City FC.

“As a kid growing up, I would always support my local team and I used to go watch Cork City back in the day, those players back in the 90’s were my idols,” O’Donovan reflected.


O’Donovan quickly became an idol for the next generation of young Irish footballers, and it is a time in his career that he is extremely proud of.   

“For me to play for my hometown club in front of my parents and be successful there, to score goals and win trophies, was a dream come true,” he said.

The sheer nature of the Premier League has gone a long way in shaping O’Donovan, not only as a player, but as a person.

“The speed of the game in England, there’s questions being asked of you all the time, tactically, technically, physically,” he said.

“It was a cut-throat fierce competition, but I learned a hell of a lot.”

In 2015, O’Donovan made the switch to the A-League and enjoyed a successful stint with the Central Coast Mariners before making the quick trip up the road to join the Jets ahead of the 2017/18 campaign.

In his first season with the club, O’Donovan led the Jets to the A-League grand final with nine goals in 16 appearances.

It is his first season with the Club that O’Donovan draws on as motivation to help bring the A-League title back to Newcastle for the first time since 2008.


“It just shows you the potential of the Newcastle Jets as a football club and that year was special, the whole town seemed to rally around us and I’m longing for those days to come back,” O’Donovan said.

“I think there is something very special at this football club; that it’s just ready to ignite.”

Falling in love with the club and the city, O’Donovan and his family have recently become Australian citizens and are well accustomed to life in Newcastle.

“We have been here over five years now. Newcastle has felt like home for all of us and we feel blessed to have the opportunity to stay here long term,” he said.

O’Donovan is an experienced head among a youthful Jets team but is excited for the challenges to come.

And while the off-contract striker is unsure what his future holds, he knows this team isn’t far off turning results around.

“I think there is a huge potential in the city for football, people love their football, and they want a team to be proud of,” O’Donovan said

“My message to them is, it is going to get better, results will improve, and the good days will be back.”