Roy O'Donovan celebrates the Newcastle Jet's semi-final win last Friday over Melbourne City at McDonald Jones Stadium, Newcastle. Picture: Darren Pateman/AAP
Roy O'Donovan celebrates the Newcastle Jet's semi-final win last Friday over Melbourne City at McDonald Jones Stadium, Newcastle. Picture: Darren Pateman/AAP DARREN PATEMAN

Seasoned Newcastle Jets pro knows the recipe for success

ROY O'Donovan is no stranger to big games.

In his first professional season, the Irish marksman won his country's top-flight league with Cork City, pipping Derry City to the 2005 crown.

He's been to Wembley, where his Northampton Town was beaten by Bradford City in England's 2013 League Two play-off final. And a year later he won the Singapore League Cup with Brunei DPMM.

But even when O'Donovan looks back on it all, Saturday night's A-League grand final in Newcastle still rates as "huge".

And his high-stakes experience has taught him what it will take to beat Melbourne Victory.

"Just turn up, mentally and physically," he said. "And enjoy it, don't over-hype it. It's still a game of football.

"You understand the importance, but with two teams that want to win the game it's whoever can stay calmest and take their chances."

O'Donovan's fit and ready to start after a season that has been underlined by as much personal frustration as joy over his new team's unlikely success.

He enjoyed a prolific start with seven goals in his first five games, until injury, suspension and inconsistency hampered the 32-year-old's campaign.

Three weeks ago he turned a corner, bagging a brace against Central Coast - the team he left in the off-season after Jets CEO Lawrie McKinna "promised the dream".

"Everything has gone to plan," O'Donovan said.

"It's been a fairytale story for everybody so I don't want to dwell on my personal sob story.

"Of course it has been frustrating. I was flying the first six weeks and my aspiration and goals were a lot higher, but you cut them back with the injury.

"That 10-12 week period out was hard but it would have been a lot worse if I'd been sitting up in the stands and we were losing every week."

On Saturday night, O'Donovan will spearhead the Jets' attack in front of a sell-out home crowd.

"Melbourne Victory have a fantastic team so they're going to pose a different challenge to what Melbourne City did," he said.

"But it's something we're all relishing. You want to play against the best the A-League has to offer and Victory are definitely up there."

- AAP



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