Belfast Telegraph

Sunday Life

Amateur team Shamrock dismiss rumours of Jay Donnelly signing


Jay Donnelly
Jay Donnelly

By Stephen Looney

Shamed football star Jay Donnelly remains out in the cold after an amateur club yesterday dismissed claims he was poised to sign for them.

Amateur League side Shamrock FC were linked to the former Cliftonville striker, who has not played in nearly a year and who served a jail sentence for sharing a photo of himself having sex with a teenage girl.

But last night club officials told Sunday Life that under no circumstances was Donnelly due to join the side based in Ardoyne, north Belfast.

Manager Paul Carson said though the 24-year-old was from Ardoyne, reports he was joining the club was "news to him".

Another official, Gareth McGuigan, was categoric, saying: "Shamrock FC have not and will not be signing Jay Donnelly".

Donnelly has posted on social media about his desire to get back onto the pitch following the end of his prison sentence. On October 11, he posted "Haven't played in a year... mad."

This post and similar posts have been met with support from friends and relatives, telling him he'll be back playing the game soon.

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The former ace shared a photograph of a 16-year-old girl taken while they were having sex in June 2016.

Donnelly, of Ardilea Drive, admitted the charge last November and was jailed for four months at Belfast Magistrates Court by District Judge Amanda Henderson.

The sentence was reduced to three months on appeal by County Court Judge David McFarland in April, following which Cliftonville announced the termination of his contract with the club.

Jay Donelly and partner Rachael Campbell
Jay Donelly and partner Rachael Campbell

Donnelly, whose brother Rory currently plays for the Reds, last turned out in a competitive game against Linfield late last year.

The player served eight weeks in Maghaberry prison and was released in June, but has been unable to find a club in the professional ranks of football, despite being one of the most gifted players in the local game.

Several Danske Bank Premiership clubs opted not to sign the forward because of the fear of a public backlash.

Similarly, a couple of amateur clubs also declined overtures to sign Donnelly due to opposition from constituents within their own clubs.

Shamrock FC, who play in Division 2A of the Amateur League, were rumoured to be considering offering local lad Donnelly a way back into football by registering him on amateur terms but that has now been dismissed.

Donnelly's case caused furore at the time with Judge Henderson stating when handing down the original sentence "It was an extreme abuse of trust.

"The injured party immediately asked that this photo be deleted... but within the next day or two he had shared it with 11 people," adding that the offence was "such a gross invasion of privacy" that it warranted a custodial sentence.

The Belfast Feminist Network immediately called for footballing bodies to take action, following which the Irish FA banned the player from all affiliated football until September 1 of this year, having charged him with bringing the game into disrepute.

Belfast Telegraph


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