Belfast Telegraph

Old boss Brendan Rodgers still proving real source of inspiration: Rory Donnelly

By Steven Beacom

Cliftonville striker Rory Donnelly has revealed he is still inspired by the words of his former manager Brendan Rodgers even though they parted ways six years ago.

Ahead of tomorrow's Irish Cup final against Coleraine at Windsor Park, the talented 26-year-old reflected on his spell across the water and admitted if a chance came along again he would be in a better position to take it.

For now, though, all his energies and focus is on the Reds winning the Cup for the first time since 1979.

He is relishing the experience and the opportunity to play alongside his younger brother Jay on such a huge occasion as well as Solitude legend Joe Gormley, like Rory in his second spell at the club.

"Knowing the way we can play I'm excited and with the firepower we have if we get a good start it could be a long day for Coleraine, but then again it is about getting that start and everything on the day gelling together," he said.

"Coleraine are a strong side but on our day I would fancy us to beat anyone.

"It's a dream playing up front with Joe and Jay. Everyone knows about Joe.

"He can score from anywhere. Jay brings a bit of everything to the table.

"We take a lot of pressure off each other. If one isn't performing the other boys step up and chip in with goals so it works well."

Quizzed on what's it been like working with 23-year-old Jay, the elder sibling joked: "It's great until he doesn't pass the ball and then you have to let him know!

"We have always played football, like five-a-sides and stuff, but this is the first time we have played together in a team on a regular basis. It's been great for both of us and our family."

Donnelly is honest enough to admit it took him a while to settle into part-time football again at the start of this season after being across the water for five years with Swansea, Tranmere on loan and finally Gillingham.

There was also a four-day loan spell at Coventry. In late 2011 when Donnelly was smashing in spectacular goals from all angles for Cliftonville, he became hot property with Kenny Dalglish at Liverpool, David Moyes at Everton and then-Swansea boss Rodgers all wanting to sign him.

He chose countryman Rodgers, who ironically went on to manage Liverpool and is now on course for a double treble in charge of Celtic.

"I spoke to Brendan and David Moyes at the time and Swansea fitted the bill for me," said Donnelly, who moved to Swansea in January 2012.

"It seemed like a family club and I knew a few people there already so it was easy for me to make my decision.

"I learned a lot from Brendan, listening to him and talking to him and taking in everything that he said.

"It made me realise how to make my game better.

"Ever since then I've always thought of the words that he said to me because he really did help me a lot.

"I was in touch with him a while back and he was asking how I was getting on. He has done a great job at Celtic."

Asked about Liverpool legend Dalglish taking a personal interest in signing him, Donnelly said: "I look back on it with pride. I thought to myself at the time, 'Kenny Dalglish? What does he want with me?'

"For him to show interest and for Liverpool to show interest was massive for me.

"After I left Swansea, I didn't realise what I had until it was gone.

"If another opportunity came up it would be hard to turn it down because I've learned from my mistakes and have taken them on board so I would know what to do and what not to do.

"If the chance came again for full-time football I know I'd be in a better position to take it."

Belfast Telegraph

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