Belfast Telegraph

Rampant Rory Donnelly wants a taste of Euro 2016 glory

By Steven Beacom

Rory Donnelly is the most prolific Northern Ireland striker in English football right now.

He has grabbed six goals in his last four games, the latest a superb injury-time winner against Crewe Alexandra on Saturday in a dramatic 1-0 victory taking Gillingham to the top of League One.

Donnelly didn't have a look in for Northern Ireland in the successful Euro 2016 qualifying campaign, but if the ex-Cliftonville star continues his stunning scoring form, meticulous Michael O'Neill will consider the 23-year-old from Belfast.

There are striking spots up for grabs with only Kyle Lafferty and Josh Magennis looking certs for France in the forward department.

Two years ago, Donnelly did not wish to be considered for Northern Ireland selection, opting out of a Euro Under-21 qualifier against Cyprus.

Declaring at the time that he was not closing the door on Northern Ireland, a few months later he was named in the Under-21 panel for a friendly with Denmark.

Now he is doing all he can to bang O'Neill's door down, having admired Northern Ireland's Euro qualification from afar.

Donnelly said: "They did really well to get to France. I would love to play for them but I just have to keep the performances up."

When Donnelly was scoring goals galore at Cliftonville at the end of 2011, both Liverpool and Everton were chasing him but at the start of 2012 he ended up going to Swansea, then managed by Brendan Rodgers.

He only played a couple of first team games at Swansea, before moving to Tranmere on loan earlier this year after a similar switch to Coventry didn't work out.

In June, Donnelly joined Gillingham and is now fulfilling his potential, perhaps just in time to make a bid for a seat on the plane to France.

234 days to go!

Belfast Telegraph