Belfast Telegraph

Crusaders' new striking star Matthew Donnelly is one of Northern Ireland's brightest prospects, says Baxter

Crusaders 0 Motherwell 1

By Steven Beacom

Crusaders manager Stephen Baxter believes the club have signed one of Northern Ireland's brightest young talents in teenage striker Matthew Donnelly.

The 18-year-old, who has joined from Crumlin United, made an impressive cameo appearance against Motherwell at Seaview in Saturday's testimonial for record Crues goalscorer Jordan Owens.

Coming on for Owens with 15 minutes left, one challenge on Motherwell's Cedric Kipre left the £1 million rated defender on the turf before a lung-bursting run almost led to Donnelly opening the scoring prior to Danny Johnson earning the visitors a 1-0 victory with virtually the final touch.

Could he be the latest whizzkid in the Crusaders ranks? Baxter certainly has a solid record of getting the best out of teenage talent.

"This young kid was recommended to us and we did our homework on him. He is 18 years old and is probably one of the brightest prospects in Northern Ireland," said the Seaview boss.

"We always look for that. We heard about Stuart Dallas at 18 and went to look at him, we heard about Gavin Whyte at 17 and brought him in.

"All you can do is give talented youngsters like Matthew a chance. We can tell the player what we can do for him but it is up to the player to grasp the nettle."

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K club: Jordan Owens with his kids Kruz, Kaiyah and Kalvin

Owens paid tribute to both sets of supporters for turning out on his big day.

"It was great to see fans from both sides make the effort and it turned out to be a useful workout for both teams and it was a really special day for me and family," he said.

"I'd like to thank everyone at Crusaders and all those on my testimonial committee who put in so much hard work."

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