As the sport of soccer continues to grow in the United States, many players have continued to take their talents overseas in order to play with some of the best leagues in Europe. Not many from South Jersey have been fortunate enough to play professionally, but former Delran High School and Rowan University standout Shane Doherty is making the most of his opportunity across the Atlantic Ocean.
Doherty is set to begin his third season with Galway United, a professional team in the Republic of Ireland’s second division, after being one of the best players to come through New Jersey. The 24-year-old began his career racking up goals and reaching new milestones with his high school and college teams and is now hoping to continue living his dream of being a professional in Europe.
“I’m probably lucky because I’m able to play where there’s been a lot of people, players that are out of contract that, you know, if you actually if were out of contract, or in COVID, it was kind of hard to find somewhere,” Doherty said in a recent interview with Glory Days Magazine.
“So I was lucky enough to get back in with Galway. And, obviously, not just to be back, but fortunate to be a part of a big run. When I came in we were in ninth place and our manager got sacked, a new manager came in and we went on a very, very good run and ended up in the promotion playoffs. We fell short, but the fact that we kind of came from so far back was obviously something really cool to be a part of. So not only the fact that I got to play, but to be a part of something like that. I’m very lucky in that sense.”
Doherty has scored three goals in 32 combined appearances for the club, playing in the SSE Airtricity League and also featuring the FAI Cup competition. After helping the club reach the promotion playoffs, the forward recently signed a new contract this fall with the club, a reward for his hard work both on and off the field.
“I was obviously very happy to sign back in and it gives you that confidence as a player,” Doherty said. “I was used to playing under my former manager and when John Caulfield, a well-known player and manager from Ireland, came in, I was a bit worried about what would happen to my playing time. It was huge to try and perform well for him and it gave me a bunch of confidence that he wanted me back for next season and beyond.”
“He won the league and won the cup with Cork City in the past as a player and manager so obviously he has tons of success (in Ireland). So getting to work with someone like that is a  really cool moment. Once we started going and learning the way he wanted to play we started rolling. I think next season we will do more of the same.”
Doherty was part of the dominant Delran soccer program during his time in high school, winning a state championship and working with the now-retired Mike Otto. From that point on, Doherty signed with Rowan University and racked up 44 goals and 22 assists in 77 games player for the Profs from 2015-18.
Coming from a historic and successful program like Delran has certainly helped Doherty develop into a top player, and he credits the growth from his time there for being able to earn his opportunity overseas.
“When I was younger, Carly [Lloyd] was at Rutgers at the time and she would hold individual training sessions with myself and my brother and sister. (MLS’ Sporting KC head coach Peter) Vermes is a living legend as well, what he was able to do in the town of Delran and what he continues to do in MLS. I remember being a kid and going to ‘The Den’ and watching these packed games and wanting to be like those players when I grew up.”
“It was a really neat thing to do, because I’m really happy that I was able to do something and I’m proud to say that I was able to play here. Working with coach Otto to was a great experience because he was a guy who always pushed us to be at our best and you can see the achievements he helped bring to the school and town. He’s also been very supportive of me and my family and I can’t thank him enough for that.”
Even making the move to NCAA Division III program Rowan was a change for Doherty, but he delivered for the Profs in his four seasons there. Doherty registered a multi-goal or multi-assist game 14 times during his time in Glassboro and also played in 20 matches or more in three of his four seasons. It was another promising step in his career and helped play a role in where he is now.
“I’m very grateful and very lucky that I not only went to Delran, but went to Rowan. I think both are great programs, great places to be at, and it’s almost funny that I stayed brown and gold no matter what,” Doherty said, referring to both schools’ uniform colors. “Playing under (head coach) Scott Baker, I really enjoyed myself and he helped provide some great confidence in me. My freshman year we made the NCAA Tournament for the first time in about 10 years, which was a great start to my time there. I also can’t thank my teammates enough because they helped make me who I am today.”
Doherty is back in New Jersey for now, staying active ahead of the new domestic season in Ireland, which kicks off in March 2021. During his spare time, he continues to watch MLS and even European leagues, which have started seeing more American players making a name for themselves. After missing out on promotion to the Irish Premier League, Doherty is aiming to do whatever he can to help Galway United get back to the top flight for the first time since 2017.
“I think the main goal for us has to be to earn promotion,” Doherty said. “Of course, winning the league outright also means we can avoid the promotion playoffs and it would be a big achievement for the club to do that. To win promotion will be at a cost and we’re going to have to work very hard to do that this season. I want to score as many goals and assists as possible, but first and foremost (my goal) will be to do what the manager asks of me and to be a team player.”
Follow Larry Henry Jr. on Twitter @lhenry019