Belfast Telegraph

Poll: Should Cliftonville striker Jay Donnelly play Irish League football again?

Cliftonville's Jay Donnelly.
Cliftonville's Jay Donnelly.

The playing career of Jay Donnelly is hanging in the balance after the Cliftonville striker was jailed for sharing an indecent image of a child.

Donnelly, who turns 24 today,  had appealed his original sentence of four months in prison, which was subsequently reduced to three months.

He has not played for the Reds since November. The club dropped the player after his conviction on November 28. His last game for Cliftonville was on November 24, when he started in the 4-2 defeat to Linfield at Windsor Park a day after pleading guilty.

Following his final sentencing on Tuesday, Cliftonville confirmed that 'club disciplinary procedures' will be followed while it is understood that influential figures at the north Belfast club feel the time has come to cut their ties with the player.

"We wish to reiterate, as outlined in previous statements, that Cliftonville FC recognises the impact that this has had on the victim and her family. We condemn such actions without question," said the club statement.

The Irish Football Association has said that it will now consider a charge against Jay Donnelly of 'bringing the game into disrepute'.

"The safeguarding of children remains the highest priority of the association and our sympathy is with the victim and her family in this case," read an IFA statement.

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Donnelly, of Ardilea Drive in north Belfast, stressed his remorse in a statement released through his solicitor John Finucane.

"I want to again apologise to the complainant in this case for the the hurt that my action caused," he said.

"This will never erase what happened, but I hope that today's outcome provides her with a degree of closure that allows her to move on with her life."

There is no doubting Donnelly's on-field talents, having scored 20 Premiership goals for Cliftonville last season. However, whether or not he will play Irish League football again is unclear.

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