AMONG FINN HARPS’ nine new signings in the closed season, that of Michael Rafter was perhaps the most surprising.
The 23-year-old Tipperary native hasn’t played since picking up a serious ankle injury late in the 2013 season while at Derry City.
Rafter scored 12 times for the Candystripes that year, but has been plagued by ankle trouble since. He signed for Cork City, but never played for them.
He underwent corrective surgery on the anke in May 2014 and spent 2015 traveling in Australia.
Last month, upon hearing that the player was home, Finn Harps manager Ollie Horgan put a call in to Rafter.
“The reason I’ve come home is to play again,” Rafter told Donegal Sport Hub.
“I loved Australia, but the main reason I came back was to play in the League of Ireland again and to score goals again.
“I’m happy to be back in the League. I had a year traveling there and enjoying myself but I feel that it’s the right time to come back and get into it again.
“I had an operation in 2014 and I had to go away and get my head right. The time is right now again.”
Rafter, who also lined out for Dundalk and Waterford having returned from Colchecter United, lived in Carrigans while on the books of Derry City in 2013 and knows Donegal well.
That Horgan showed such a keen interest in his services was the decisive factor for the striker.
He said: “Ollie was persistent with me. He kept ringing me. He was the person who wanted me the most out of anyone.
“What he wants from his team I’ve bought into it already, even though I’m not training. I like the way he’s going about things.”
Rafter won’t be available for Harps’ opening League game against Derry City on March 4 and it unsure about a return date.
He said: “It’s day-by-day. I’m working hard with the physio and the fitness coach. When I’m not in with them, I do some work in the Clanree Hotel or at Adam Speer’s gym. I don’t know how long I’ll be, but it’s getting stronger.
“I’m doing the rehab, doing the work that I need to do and I’m getting back there, doing my running and gradually getting better.
“I haven’t spoken about a timeframe. I’d love to get back as early as possible.”Tags: