Belfast Telegraph

Footballer Jay Donnelly jailed for posting sex photo of underage girl returns with Belfast Celtic

Former Irish League player Jay Donnelly was sacked by Cliftonville
Former Irish League player Jay Donnelly was sacked by Cliftonville

By Staff Reporter

Belfast Celtic Football Club has confirmed it has signed former Cliftonville player Jay Donnelly.

The player was jailed last spring after sharing a photo of himself having sex with a 16-year-old girl.

In the picture Donnelly (24) shared on social media she was wearing his Cliftonville team shirt with 'J Donnelly 21' emblazoned on the back.

In a statement issued yesterday Belfast Celtic - formerly known as Sport and Leisure Swifts - said it believed in "second chances".

"We are pleased to announce the signing of Jay Donnelly.

"The former Cliftonville forward is the manager's fourth January signing so far and bolsters our forward line considerably," the amateur club said.

"Jay's past is well documented and after being out of the game for nearly two years he is eligible to play football once again."

The club said joint managers Stephen McAlorum and Paddy Kelly "believe in second chances and have offered Jay the chance to rebuild his career with us which the club fully back".

"Belfast Celtic is committed to providing opportunities for talented players to express their skills and abilities, where they are supported by a determined coaching squad and a caring pastor throughout both their physical and mental development."

The amateur club competes in the Ballymena Intermediate League.

Donnelly, of Ardilea Drive in Belfast, took the photograph of himself having sex with the teenager in June 2016.

He shared the image with a friend and a WhatsApp group with 10 members, including some team-mates. It was later leaked on social media.

Donnelly admitted the charge of distributing the image.

He was sentenced to four months in jail, which was reduced to three months on appeal.

The signing of Donnelly by Belfast Celtic also provoked a reaction from Belfast Celtic Society, which was established to remember and honour the memory and achievements of the old Irish League club of the same name.

"After media contact we remind everyone the football club involved in this transfer has absolutely no connection with our society and no connection at all with the original Belfast Celtic," the society posted.

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