Stephen Donnelly could go from AUL to European football in the space of six weeks.
The AUL top scorer signed for the Irish League club Gelnavon earlier this week following fellow eye catching Usher Celtic attacker Jordan Buckley-who signed for Shelbourne- from amateur to pro football.
Manager Gary Hamilton tried to sign the 44 goal man last season, but Donnelly elected to join his boyhood club Bohemians instead.
The Bohs stint didn’t quite work out and the front man with the ability to beat a man and find the net returned to Premier A.
One successful amateur season, in which Donnelly won the Premier A title, AUL Golden Boot and AUL Player of the Year, later and Hamilton finally got his man.
Indeed, Hamilton, who signed and coached former Crumlin United striker Greg Moorehouse for a years, has so much faith in his new signing that he hopes to use him for the up coming Europa League campaign.
Aware Donnelly has joined on the back of a long season the coach points out he is wary of burnout, but wants to manage the situation as to have the current AUL Player of the Years firing on all cylinders for when Gelnavon’s European campaign.
Glenavon will play Norwegian side Molde FK in the first qualifying round of the Europa League. The away leg will take place on July 19 and the Irish League club are hoping to play the first leg and the Ole Gunnar Solskjaer managed side on Wednesday July 11.
“The season only finished down there last week and they’ve played around 60 games so we’ll have to manage him right over pre-season so he doesn’t burn out in January. Our boys are back in this week at pre-season so he’ll come up and get to know the boys and get a bit of TLC and treatment. We’ll rest him and give him a few minutes in the odd game and hope to have him ready for the European games,” explained Hamilton before explaining why he signed the player from Usher Celtic.
“Stephen scored 44 goals last season, albeit at a lower standard, but you still have to score the goals.”
“I watched him in two games recently and he scored a hat trick in both so he’s somebody who knows where the back of the net is and we’re hoping he’ll add goals to the team.