At the end of June, Aidy Boothroyd made Roy O’Donovan Coventry’s third acquisition of the summer. While not exactly a big-name signing, there are reasons to be cautiously optimistic about Roy’s future at the Ricoh.
It’s hard to say exactly what level this player is meant for. He signed as a trainee for Coventry in 2001, and left after three years without making a first team appearance, apparently due to not making the grade. He then signed for hometown club Cork city, where he promptly became one of the best players in the League of Ireland, and the league’s top scorer in 2005 when he helped Cork to a first league title in 12 years. His controversial move to Sunderland
did not lead to a successful Premiership career, but he scored goals for fun in League 1 during his loan spell at Hartlepool last season.
So perhaps his level is somewhere in between? Coventry seems like a good club for him to find this out at. Although Freddie Eastwood will continue as the clear first choice striker, neither of his fellow Cov newbies Jutkietwcz or McSheffrey yet have a firm hold on a starting place, so he could well get a few appearances early in the season. Add to this the fact that Roy played the first half of his career on the right wing, and he should be optimistic of getting on in some capacity.
But will he deliver? The handful of times I saw him line out for Cork City in the mid 00s he looked like your typical Premiership reject. Fancy haircut, fancy touches, huge confidence in his own ability, but spent far too much time pointlessly skinning full backs for his own amusement. When he was converted to centre-forward though, he delivered in spades, perhaps because selfishness is more useful in front of goal than it is on the wing. His years spent in the League of Ireland and on loan at such glamour vacuums as Southend, Blackpool and Dundee seem to have given him a kick up the proverbial, and he looked a class above when hanging out with the monkey executioners last season. Dangerous when running at defenders, a confident striker of the ball, and good at taking up wide positions to create space, Roy could develop into an ideal strike partner for Eastwood.
The step up from LoI success to Championship competence is a big one, but it has been well negotiated by quite a few players recently. Training and playing with Sunderland and the handful of other British clubs he has been at in the last 3 years have helped improve Roy’s strength and technique, and his confidence must be at an all time high after last season. Kevin Doyle is the most obvious example of a player making this move successfully in the last few years, and there are just as many (if not more) signs that O’Donovan will succeed than there were when Doyle grabbed the ferry in 2005.
At 24 years of age O’Donovan could still prove his worth as a Championship striker and break into Giovanni Trappatoni’s Ireland squad
, so he will be desperate to make his stay in Coventry a successful one. Boothroyd is taking a gamble on the young Irishman, but he has already looked useful in preseason games, and the manager has a reputation for bringing the best out of his players.