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Mick McDermott urges Glentoran fans to back Jay Donnelly and trust manager's judgement over signing



New start: Jay Donnelly with his new boss at Glentoran Mick McDermott

New start: Jay Donnelly with his new boss at Glentoran Mick McDermott

New start: Jay Donnelly with his new boss at Glentoran Mick McDermott

Glentoran manager Mick McDermott has asked the fans to trust and back his judgment after signing former Cliftonville striker Jay Donnelly.

Some fans of the east Belfast outfit have criticised the move, with the club saying in a statement they were fully aware that there was "debate within our supporter base".

In November 2018, Donnelly (25) admitted the charge of distributing an indecent image of a child and was later sentenced to four months in prison. His original sentence was reduced by an appeal judge to three months which he served last year.

He was charged by the Irish FA with bringing the game into disrepute and suspended from playing football until September 1, 2019 and, after his sentencing, Donnelly was sacked by Cliftonville.

Donnelly joins Glentoran from Belfast Celtic and will be loaned back to the Ballymena Intermediate League side, probably until January.

McDermott said: "We have strengthened considerably this close season with six top quality players joining the club and others extending their contracts. This has put us in a strong position to challenge for all the major trophies in 2020-21 but we always need to be aware of the availability of players who can further strengthen our squad.

"When Belfast Celtic let it be known that Jay might be available, we moved to sign him to increase our forward options.

"I'm aware of Jay's ability and goalscoring record. I'm also aware of the incidents in his recent past and his remorse for them. I have made a judgment call here and I ask the Glentoran support to trust and back my judgment on this signing as with all the others.

"As part of the terms of his transfer it has been agreed that Jay will be loaned back to Belfast Celtic FC for the immediate period. Jay will remain with Belfast Celtic under the watchful eye of manager and our former Glentoran captain Stephen McAlorum. Jay will likely remain with Belfast Celtic until the January transfer window.

"This will allow Jay to regain much-needed match fitness in order to return to senior football better prepared; both physically and emotionally. I would like to thank Stephen, the management team, board and chairman of Belfast Celtic for the professional way they have conducted this transfer."

Donnelly said: "I am humbled to have been given the opportunity to join such a great football club as Glentoran and I look forward to wearing the shirt with pride when I join up with my team-mates.

"I wish to express my complete remorse and regret at the actions that led to my conviction in 2019. Age and immaturity are not an excuse for an action that I now realise to have been very hurtful and damaging to the woman and her family.

"I have had several years now to reflect on my actions, and I can guarantee everyone both in football and society that I have learned from my mistake and it is something I would never consider repeating.

"I have agreed with Mick to undertake counselling and guidance on appropriate behaviour while I am on loan to Belfast Celtic and I guarantee everyone involved with the club that Glentoran will have no reason to doubt my good intentions and my determination to behave in a responsible and considerate manner."

In a statement, Glentoran said Donnelly had "expressed deep remorse at the serious lapse of judgment which led to his conviction".

The Oval club added: "Glentoran Football Club believes that everyone deserves a chance to put mistakes behind them and Jay Donnelly is no different. The club acknowledges that he has both paid and atoned for his past mistakes and deserves the opportunity to rebuild his life and football career.

"We look forward to him making a positive contribution to the club, and to giving our supporters further reason to see the coming season as one of great opportunity for Glentoran.

"We urge our supporters to give Jay the chance to prove his value to Glentoran and to get behind both Jay and his team-mates as they work hard to give everyone at the Oval the success they deserve."

Donnelly's brother Ruairi is already at the Glens and helped in the Irish Cup success this year.

Belfast Telegraph