Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 19 April 2014

Crusaders boss Baxter hails magic Donnelly

Crusaders manager Stephen Baxter is reaping the rewards of his shrewd shopping in the summer but one of his new additions was an unfamiliar face.

Mark Dickson, Aaron Black and Gareth McKeown are all established and accomplished Irish League performers but the phrase ‘Martin who?’ could be heard echoing around north Belfast in July.

Not a lot was known about 20-year-old Martin Donnelly (pictured) when he arrived at Seaview but he has certainly captured the fans’ attention now.

A former Northern Ireland Under-21 international and Sheffield United starlet who was on loan at Rochdale, Donnelly was dubbed one for the future but he has seized his chance to sparkle on the Irish League stage.

The tricky left winger is lethal from corners and set-pieces as Dungannon Swifts discovered in the dying minutes at Seaview last weekend when his sublime free-kick flew over the head of goalkeeper Dwayne Nelson to earn his side a point.

And boss Baxter will be hoping for more of the same against Institute at Seaview tomorrow.

“That young man has a left foot to die for,” said Baxter. “We saw his magic moment against Dungannon and he is capable of that.

“It’s like he has a magic wand and he can do what he wants with it.

“His ability and quality in his delivery is there for all to see. He can have a quiet game — like he did against the Swifts — and then produce a strike like that.”