IT SOMEHOW seems appropriate that Adam Rooney and his Aberdeen team-mates should be heading to Inverness to round off what has been a memorable year in both the striker and the Pittodrie club’s renaissance.
In the case of the latter, historic debt of nearly £15 million has been eradicated which will allow progress towards the construction of training facilities at Bridge of Don and a new stadium on the south side of the city.
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Turnover also soared to record levels, with attendances increasing significantly as the first full season under Derek McInnes was their most successful in two decades, culminating in a first trophy since lifting the League Cup in 1995-96.
Of course it was Rooney who scored the decisive penalty in the shoot-out victory against Caley Thistle as the highlight of an incredible 2014 for a player rediscovering the form that made him such an exciting prospect at Inverness in the first place.
Last Christmas the Irishman wasn’t even guarenteed a start for an Oldham Athletic side struggling to survive in League One after initially arriving at Birmingham City just as that club imploded.
His luck changed for the better when McInnes offered the chance of redemption during the January transfer window and he returns to Inverness today looking to add to the 26 goals scored for Aberdeen so far this year. That form was rewarded earlier this week with a second contract extension in just a matter of a few months at Pittodrie and when you add a summer marriage to Rachael back in their home city of Dublin to the mix, then 2014 looks tough to top.
Mounting a serious title challenge to Celtic might just do the trick, though, and Rooney’s aim is to end 12 months that have changed his life for the better with the win that at least keeps those hopes alive.
“It’s been a good and really enjoyable year and I definitely won’t forget it,” he said. “I got married in May and it’s been a very quick in terms of how things have changed for me. I wasn’t doing very well at Oldham so to come here and have my second game as the League cup semi-final win against St Johnstone was massive.
“I think the cup final win alone has made it my most memorable year and there’s been a lot of positivity around the place. I just want to keep scoring as many goals as I can and do as well I can here. Obviously we’re in the League Cup semi-final again and we want to try and retain that trophy. The aim is to do as well as we can and push on in the league so we just need to keep winning as many games as we can.”
It’s ironic that Rooney’s best moment came at the expense of the club that gave him a first crack at success after the striker failed to make the grade at Stoke City. Beating Caley Thistle in the League Cup final was a bittersweet experience after what the Highlanders did for his early career.
It was Craig Brewster who took him to the Caledonian Stadium but Terry Butcher who was the major influence for the stream of goals that earned the move to St Andrews.
There will be no room for sentiment today as Rooney seeks the goals to ease his current club five points clear of his former one but he is pleased to see Inverness continue the success Butcher started.
He added: “I needed to settle and play every week. Thankfully Inverness did that for me and it was good for them to get to the final last season as it shows how far they’ve come in the last number of years.
“They’re now one of the best footballing sides in the league. We have to be wary this weekend but we’re in good form ourselves.”
So good in fact that Aberdeen have won six of their last seven league matches without conceding a goal at a time when captain Russell Anderson, Willo Flood and Clark Robertson are out injured.
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