Belfast Telegraph

Donald's Wellington are a sleeping giant to be reckoned with

By Martin Mawhinney

It’s no secret that Stephen Donald has brought some of the key players from his reign at Islandmagee with him in his latest venture at Wellington Rec. However, he claims that to focus on them as the reason why the club currently sit atop Division 1A with a 100 per cent league record is to do the remaining players a huge disservice.

Wellington have made the perfect start to their fifth season since slipping out of the Amateur Premier Division, with the knowledge that in Donald they have a manager with the advantageous experience of almost a decade in charge of the top flight Islanders, but also with established players such as Michael Moore, Andy Waide, Andy Phillips and Chris Morton they can surely bid for an eventual return to the Amateur League’s top division.

It will obviously be a gradual process, one step at a time, but Donald believes everything was already in place for the club to make the step up before he and his enforcements arrived, and has been impressed with what he has taken over.

He claimed: “Wellington Rec are sleeping giants. There is a new training pitch, a great wee stand and a new clubhouse. The talk is that they have everything in place to get into the Championship one day, but you have to crawl before you can walk.

“We have started well, and have beaten some of the clubs I would expect to be challenging for the title - Rosario, UUJ, and I was very impressed with Rathfern Rangers too.

“I took four players with me, and Hilditch then joined up with us too to get fit, but I have been impressed with the players that were here already, the likes of Scott Todd, Lee Ryan, and the goalkeeper Brendan Quinn. Scott Cowie, too, I knew how good he was because he played for me at Islandmagee before.

“We haven’t had our full side out yet, but once we do, we will be hard to beat. The committee said they want us to steady the ship, and if we can get promotion, we will certainly be doing that. If not, we hopefully won’t be far away. I reckon that 15 wins should get you there or thereabouts.”

Donald spent a total of nine years in charge of Islandmagee, the highlight of which was undoubtedly the Division 1A and Clarence Cup double of 2008.

In more recent times, however, he had been finding himself less than content at Wilbourne Park.

He admitted: “I took four players with me, it could have been more. But the players that are playing for me at Wellington Rec now all have the right attitude.

“I think things at Islandmagee needed something fresh. There was a lack of training, people were saying it was down to work commitments, and all sorts of excuses. It just wasn’t good enough. Maybe the change has done Islandmagee good, as they have gone their first four league games without defeat.

“I needed a new challenge too, and everyone has welcomed me and my assistants Trevor Gault and Colin Moore. The work is spread out, and I am thoroughly enjoying my time here."

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