The 21 year-old former Sligo Rovers winger signed a one-year deal with Kenny Shiels’ outfit yesterday and becomes the City boss’ eighth signing since the close of the 2017 Airtricity Premier Division season.
And while the Lisburn native admits the lure of playing in Europe and a convincing chat with Shiels persuaded him to join the Brandywell club, his relationship with fellow N. Ireland internationals, Ben Doherty and Conor McDermott sealed the deal.
“It’s a very good club to come to and everything Kenny told me about the club sounded great to me,” said McDonagh. “I know a few of the lads here and it seems like a great place to come. It’s a very good city and I thought ‘why not?’.
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“I would be quite close with Ben Doherty and Conor McDermott,” he added. “When we go away with N. Ireland I’m always messing around with them.
“We always used to wind each other up when we played against each other when I was at Sligo. They say great things about this club and they were definitely a factor in me coming here. I know quite a few lads here and they did influence my decision.”
McDonagh, who played almost 40 games with Greenock Morton in the Scottish Championship before joining the Bit O’Red last July, was a key player as Sligo avoided the drop.
A former Linfield and Sheffield United youth player, McDonagh is determined to win silverware at Brandywell but believes he must fight for his place in the starting XI.
“Derry City has done well this last couple of seasons and playing in Europe was definitely a factor in coming here,” he continued. “I don’t see why we can’t compete for trophies here this season.
“I’m definitely not going to come here and just walk into the team - I’ll have to fight for my place. There are a lot of good players and everyone will be fighting for places. I can’t wait!”
City boss, Shiels was delighted to get McDonagh signed up having monitored his progress for quite some time.
“He really helped Sligo in the second half of the season,” explained Shiels. “They got him in the summer from Morton and I’ve been watching his progress. He’s only 21 and played 40 games for Greenock Morton in the Scottish Championship so he’s got great pedigree behind him.
“He has a lot of experience even though he’s a young lad. He’ll be a great asset to us.”
Shiels is hoping to wrap up his Christmas shopping early so he has his full 2018 squad in place before the start of pre-season on January 3rd and claims he’s in discussions with several players he hopes to sign before the festive period concludes.
“Pre-season starts on January 3rd and I want everything fixed by then so we have our squad in place.
“The competition for places this season is going to be very, very high. The ones who want that shirt will keep it if they’re performing well. There’s competition in every department. There will be more coming in,” he promised.