GAA Football

Down star Caolan Mooney set for RGU transfer in New Year

Down vice-captain Caolan Mooney is expected to transfer to Rostrevor to RGU in early 2021, having relocated to Downpatrick in the past year. Picture by Philip Walsh
Neil Loughran

DOWN vice-captain Caolan Mooney is set to line out in the colours of RGU Downpatrick next year, as a transfer from Rostrevor nears.

The 27-year-old has relocated to Downpatrick in the past year, while Mooney and fiancée Adair Trainor – who plays for RGU and Down ladies – are expecting their first child in 2021.

The window for transfers in the Mourne County opens on January 1, running until March 31, and it is expected that Mooney’s switch will go through during that period.

Mooney emerged as a potential star with some stirring performances as St Colman’s College, Newry swept to back-to-back MacRory and Hogan Cup triumphs in 2010 and 2011 – the same year the 18-year-old made his Down senior debut in an Ulster Championship victory over Antrim at Casement Park.

His speed and athleticism saw him catch the eye of Aussie Rules scouts too, with Mooney joining fellow Down man Marty Clarke at Melbourne-based club Collingwood in 2011.

However, he returned to Ireland in 2014 and has since emerged as one of Down’s main men – with his brilliant run creating the vital goal for Donal O’Hare in the Mournemen’s Ulster Championship win against Fermanagh last month.

That marked a first return to county action for Mooney in 11 months after he suffered serious injuries during a late night assault in Newry on December 29, 2019. Just hours earlier he had played in a Dr McKenna Cup victory over the Ernemen.

Having sustained a fractured skull and a bleed on the brain, Mooney faced a long road to recovery but returned with a bang with Rostrevor upon the resumption of club activity, before captaining Paddy Tally’s side in the absence of the injured Darren O’Hagan.

RGU also look set to be boosted by the return of Mooney’s former Down team-mate Anthony Doherty, who has been in Australia since 2018.

The versatile Doherty, whose long-range free-taking ability was a major asset when he first burst onto the scene during Down’s run to the 2017 Ulster final, is still in Sydney but is expected to return early in the New Year.

As well as 26-year-old Doherty, RGU manager Aidan Robinson will be able to call upon the Smyth brothers – Tom and Paul – after both missed this year’s county championship through injury, while Johnny Collins, brother of Down defender Gerard, also returns to the fold having also been sidelined by injury.

The Downpatrick club will be hoping for a better 2021 after they were controversially expelled from this year’s Down championship.

Their original round two game against Carryduff was postponed as a result of a bereavement. The match was rescheduled but the emergence of a Covid-19 case in Downpatrick meant they had to request a further postponement.

However, when that Covid case was later deemed part of a cluster, the tight turnaround of the championship schedule left them out in the cold.

Carryduff would go on to reach their first-ever Down final, while the RGU faced Darragh Cross in a relegation play-off semi-final – winning with six to spare.

In the first round of Down championship games back in mid-August, meanwhile, the Division Two Downpatrick men lost to Rostrevor – Caolan Mooney scoring two points and being brought down for a penalty as the Division One Reds opened their campaign with a 3-11 to 0-16 victory in Castlewellan.

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GAA Football