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Striker Jay Donnelly signs for Glentoran


Jay Donnelly signs for Glentoran

Jay Donnelly signs for Glentoran

Jay Donnelly

Jay Donnelly

Jay Donnelly signs for Glentoran

Striker Jay Donnelly has signed for Glentoran, the club has announced.

The 25-year-old, who served a three-month prison sentence last year for distributing an indecent image of a child, joins from Belfast Celtic.

As part of the terms of his transfer, he will be loaned back to the club, probably until January.

Announcing the move tonight, Glentoran said it was "fully aware that speculation surrounding this signing in the past week has caused debate within our supporter base", adding that the club "is fully aware of the issues in Jay’s past".

Donnelly, meanwhile, spoke of his "complete remorse and regret at the actions that led to my conviction in 2019".

He was prosecuted after taking a photograph of a 16-year-old girl while they were having sex in 2016. At the time he was playing for Cliftonville.

In November 2018 Donnelly 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.

He was charged by the Irish FA with bringing the game into disrepute and suspended from playing football until September 1 2019.

After his sentencing, Donnelly was sacked by Cliftonville.

In January this year it was announced he had signed for Belfast Celtic.

In a statement tonight, Glentoran said: "Jay Donnelly was 20 years old when the incident in question took place.

"He has expressed deep remorse at the serious lapse of judgement which led to his conviction. At the time of Jay’s offence, he was in a consensual act. Both parties were above the age of consent.

"A photograph was taken, and Jay’s crime was to share that photograph with a small, closed group of friends. This was wrong and Jay is fully aware acknowledges it to be so. The photograph was then shared more widely by a third party, without the consent of either Jay or the young woman. As a result, Jay was convicted and served his punishment accordingly.

"Jay has since accepted that sharing the photo was deeply inappropriate and has apologised for his behaviour. This was an immature action for which he has paid a high price, and one that he profoundly regrets.

"Jay is now in a stable relationship. Jay’s overwhelming wish is to continue with his life in the company of his partner and their young son.

"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.

"Acknowledging that this event did not take place within Glentoran FC, but recognising the dangers inherent in the currently widespread online / social-media culture of bullying and misogyny, the club has committed that employees will undertake educational courses in online behaviour and the club undertakes to implement a new and thorough social media policy for all.

"We have consulted extensively both within and without the club on this matter and we believe that we can now move together into the coming season with confidence and optimism.

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

As part of the terms of his transfer it has been agreed that Jay will be loaned back to Belfast Celtic until the new year.

Donnelly said he was "humbled to have been given the opportunity to join such a great football club as Glentoran".

He added: "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 (boss Mick McDermott) 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.”

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 judgement on this signing as with all the others."

McDermott said Donnelly will likely remain with Belfast Celtic until the January transfer window.

He said this will allow the player to regain match fitness to return to senior football better prepared; both physically and emotionally.

Belfast Telegraph