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Dover Athletic give former Republic of Ireland international and Arsenal defender Joe O’Cearuill an opportunity to show them what he can do

Dover have signed former Republic of Ireland international and Arsenal defender Joe O’Cearuill until the end of the season.

The 28-year-old Londoner, a centre-back, never played a league game for the Gunners but he did play in the first game played at Emirates – striker Dennis Bergkamp’s testimonial against Ajax in July 2006.

It was while he was with Arsenal he was named in manager Steve Staunton’s Ireland squad for the end-of-season tour of America, winning his first senior cap as a substitute against Ecuador before starting the next game against Bolivia.

He was released by Arsenal in 2007 and has since become something of a non-league journeyman, playing for a host of clubs including Barnet, St Patrick’s Athletic (Dublin), Harlow Town, Borehamwood, Forest Green Rovers, Bishop’s Stortford, Tooting and Mitcham United, Haringey Borough, Enfield and more recently, Ryman North side Heybridge Swifts.

Dover assistant manager Jake Leberl
Dover assistant manager Jake Leberl

O’Cearuill has arrived at Crabble on the recommendation of one of assistant manager Jake Leberl’s former team-mates.

Leberl said: “Joe has certainly done the rounds but there is no doubt he’s got good pedigree. You don’t get to play international football or get signed by Arsenal if you are not talented.

“It may be a little gamble signing him, but in my opinion I think he deserves an opportunity to start afresh.

“He’s now got a chance to show us what he can do and hopefully it will prove to be beneficial to him and us. I guess time will tell.”

O’Cearuill played for Leyton Orient and Watford at youth level before signing as a professional for Arsenal in 2006.

During his time with Arsenal, he also played eight times while on loan at Brighton, including the FA Cup third round clash at West Ham, before being released by the Gunners.

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