Former Belvedere schoolboy James Finnerty has made the move from Aston Villa to League One side Rochdale in Keith Hill’s first summer signing of the season for the Dale.
19-year-old Finnerty joined Aston Villa three years ago after impressing the Villains' scouting team while donning the famous colours of Belvo on Dublin’s Northside.
After his three-year stint at Villa Park, Finnerty made the decision to part ways with the one-time European Cup winners to join up with former Cork City star Ryan Delaney at Spotland in the third tier of English football.
The defender, who hails from Skryne in Co Meath, joins Keith Hill’s ranks with plenty of underage international experience under his belt, having played at under-15, 16,17 and 19 level for the Republic of Ireland.
“As soon as I heard that Rochdale were interested, I knew it would be a great opportunity for me," said Finnerty.
“I’m well aware that the manager gives opportunities to young players, so it was a chance I didn’t want to turn down.
“I enjoyed my three years at Villa but I’m looking forward to a new challenge. I’m delighted to get the deal done so early in the close season and I can’t wait to get started.”
Finnerty joins Rochdale on the back of the Greater Manchester club’s dramatic final day survival against Charlton, which saw Patrick McEleney’s Oldham Athletic get relegated to League Two after they could only muster up a 2-2 draw away to already-relegated Northampton Town at the Sixfields Stadium.