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Q&A With Shane McInerney

31 May 2019

Shane McInerney Q&A

Defender Shane McInerney has just recently completed a switch to Australian professional side Dandenong Thunder SC and spoke with PASS4Soccer for a Q&A session.

The centre-back played for the Irish Schools National Team before heading out to the United States to go to Monroe Community College (NJCAA) in New York.

McInerney spent one year at MCC before transferring to Keiser University (NAIA) in Florida and the defender had a successful three years there.

The former Galway United defender went to National Championships with both schools and has since went on to play professionally in the United States, Sweden and Australia.

We sat down with McInerney to discuss his time at university, his journey in the professional game and also about his recent move down under.

How much of a change was it moving out to the United States and become a student-athlete?

SM: It was a big change alright, but something that I was interested in for a while. I was playing with Ireland U18 Schools at the time and had a number of colleges, stateside, interested in me. The chance to play ball full-time, while studying in USA, really appealed to me. I attended a PASS4Soccer event in Dublin and after that, I had about five or six offers on the table. I committed on a full ride originally to American International College in Boston, Massachusetts, but my SAT results let me down, so I ended up going to a Juco (Junior College) in New York called, Monroe Community College, instead. 

What was the transition like between junior college and university?

SM: Not that different to be fair. I spent my freshman year at Monroe Community College and I really enjoyed my year there. We had a very talented team that finished third in the Nation. Five of us from that team went on to play professional after our collegiate careers. The facilities at MCC were fantastic, as good as you’ll find at any academy in England. 

How did you find your time with Monroe Community College and then Keiser University?

SM: I really enjoyed my time in New York at MCC and in West Palm Beach with Keiser University. I was lucky enough to play at National Tournaments with both colleges. In my freshman year at MCC, we flew to Georgia for the Nationals and got beat in the semi-finals. In my sophomore year at Keiser Universit,y we hosted the Nationals, so automatically got a bye to the National Tournament.

We played Rio Grande, who were ranked number one in the nation, in the first game. We caused a huge upset and beat the other team in overtime to knock them out, it was an unbelievable feeling. I had a great three years playing ball at Keiser University in Florida too. Keiser is an NAIA college, there’s no limit on international players, so we had a lot of people from all over the world. 

What exactly made you want to go out to the US and take this route in life, instead of studying back home in Ireland?

SM: The opportunity to play ball on a full-time basis while studying. The lifestyle in the USA really appealed to me and I had seen other Irish lads going over stateside that loved it. The college facilities were top class and I knew I would be training every day and that would help me prepare for the professional game after my collegiate career. I was lucky enough to spend a year in New York and three years in college in Florida. I mean, who doesn’t want to wake up every day in the sun, be playing ball full-time and live five minutes from the beach. It’s an unbelievable lifestyle.

If you were to speak with youngsters thinking about doing what you’ve done in the USA, what would be your advice?

SM: Definitely give it a go. I knew that if I went over with the right mentality and attitude I’d do well and I think that’s key. If it doesn’t work out for someone, they can always fly home again. But I highly recommend going to USA on a soccer scholarship. You meet friends for life, you get to play ball full-time, while experiencing the lifestyle and culture in the USA and you get to choose what degree you’d like to study. Also, if you do go, I’d highly recommend staying out there in the summer and playing USL2/NPSL. It’s a great way to stay fit in the off-season and gives you a chance to explore a new part of USA. 

What were your stand-out moments during your four years there?

SM: My first year in New York would’ve been winning the conference and going to play at the Nationals in Georgia. I spent the summer of 2013 playing in the NPSL for Knoxville Force, in Tennessee, and really enjoyed my time there. It's a great location and we had a great bunch of lads. I also played PDL in 2014 for Palm Beach Suns in Florida and loved it.

The PDL is made up of players that are usually the top players at universities and it’s a great stepping stone for those looking to play pro after their college career. It was an unbelievable feeling beating Rio Grande as we were huge underdogs for that game. My senior year, getting to the Conference final and being named All-American and Defensive Player of the Year was a proud moment for me and nice to see hard work paying off. 

What has been your journey in the pro game, post-university?

SM: It’s been quite the journey to be fair. After my college career, I had interest from clubs in USL and Europe. I spent time on trial at Cork City, playing in games for them against Wolves and Fulham. The gaffer at the time, John Caufield really liked me, but felt I needed more pro experience as I was just out of college and they were playing Europa League at the time. In August 2016, I signed a professional contract with Swedish Division One side Linkoping city. I really enjoyed it there and it was a great place for me to get games and start my career as a professional footballer.

Shortly after the season there, I picked up a knee injury, which kept me out of the game for about seven months. During this time, I went back to Florida and got involved in coaching academy teams and private coaching. I really enjoy it and it’s something I’m very passionate about, helping others improve their game. I’ll definitely look to progress my coaching career when I’m finished with my playing career.

When I came back to full fitness, I signed for Jacksonville Armada in Florida. We had a solid team there and the gaffer Mark Lowry has a very good approach to how the game should be played. In December 2018, I got a call off my agent to say there’s an offer on the table in the NPL Australia (second tier). Shortly after, I signed for Magpies Crusaders in Queensland and I’m now currently playing for Dandenong Thunder FC, who are also an NPL club in Australia, located in Melbourne. 

You’ve just signed for Dandenong Thunder in Australia, how did that come about?

SM: I was back home visiting family and spent some time on trial at Livingston in the SPFL, Waterford FC in the League of Ireland Premier Division and Galway United League of Ireland First Division. I couldn’t sign for a club in Europe until the transfer window opened in July, whereas the Australian window had opened before then.

I had a couple NPL clubs interested in me as I’d made a good impression in Australia from my time at Magpies Crusaders. I agreed to sign for Dandenong Thunder SC in Melbourne and a couple of days later they flew me over. I play my first game this weekend and can’t wait. 

How do you feel your time playing in the USA, Ireland, Sweden and Australia will help with this next chapter?

SM: I think traveling and playing in a few different countries has helped me. I’ve a huge passion for traveling and I’m blessed that my career allows me to travel the world, doing what I love. You learn different styles of football and learn new things off every coach you work with. In Sweden and Jacksonville Armada for example, both coaches loved to play out from the back and be in possession of the ball, whereas other clubs may be more direct and you have to adapt to what the gaffer wants.

I’d consider myself a ball-playing centre-back and love be on the ball, but also love the physical side of the game too, so you have to adjust to how the gaffer wants to play. I think the biggest benefit I got from playing four years of college ball in the US was becoming more of an athlete and getting used to training every day. You’re in the gym every day and are out on the pitch. I’d say, as a college athlete, you train just as much, if not more, than when you’re a professional footballer. It definitely prepares you physically and mentally for the professional game. 


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