McDonnell: Good to Be Back at Shels
Monday, 11th Jul 2016 06:00
Town midfielder Adam McDonnell enjoyed his return to his old club Shelbourne, particularly as he came face to face with his cousin Dylan Grimes in midfield during Saturday's 2-1 friendly victory over the SSE Airtricity League First Division side at Tolka Park. McDonnell joined the Blues from the Dublin club two summers ago.
“It’s been good to see everyone, all the fans and all the staff at Shels,” the 19-year-old said. “I went there when I was 16 and then played eight or nine games and then went to Ipswich. It’s good to come back and see everyone who helped me to get where I was.
“I loved the game, it was good. My little cousin plays midfield so I was playing against him. That was a bit different. Were there a few tackles flying in? It has to be done, doesn’t it!”
Grimes was on target for the home side from the penalty spot in the second half but Town claimed the victory with Brett Pitman and Freddie Sears having netted earlier goals.
But McDonnell says results aren’t the important thing during pre-season: “It’s just about getting the fitness and getting back used to playing. The result doesn’t mean anything.”
Prior to his return to Tolka Park, McDonnell and the rest of the squad spent the week training at the Carton House Hotel in Co Kildare, an annual pre-season destination since Mick McCarthy took over as manager in 2012.
“Loved it at Carton House,” McDonnell added. “The first week in Ipswich was tough, running and that, but the footballs are out now, so it doesn’t seem as bad, it doesn’t seem like we’re doing as much running, it’s doing good though. The first week was tough, the second week a bit more football.”
Two summers ago McDonnell played for Shels in the friendly which has also become an annual event.
“I went on trial at Ipswich four or five weeks before that and the first team came over to Tolka Park and I played the first half,” he recalled.
“And then went back over and played a game at Braintree. I came over with [former Town winger] Dylan Connolly, and Kevin Bru played, we had a few trialists. I did well and I signed a deal a few weeks after that.”
But his progress was temporarily halted by FIFA red tape which prevented him from playing a competitive game at any level for Town until he turned 18 in May 2015.
“They wouldn’t give me international clearance so I couldn’t play,” he continued. “I don’t really know the reason why still, but I had to wait until I was 18. My first year I couldn’t play, so I got off to a slow start.”
McDonnell was a regular in the Town U21s last season and featured on the first-team bench on a number of occasions before making his Championship debut from the start at Derby County on the final day of last season, having previously appeared in the Capital One Cup tie at Doncaster.
“It was a very long wait but it was all worth it, 100 per cent, one of the best days of my life, definitely,” McDonnell enthused.
“The going slowly didn’t bother me because I made my debut when I wanted to at 18 or 19 and I loved it. It was worth it in the end.
“The first 25 minutes I noticed it was definitely a quicker tempo but I didn’t feel out of place at all. I thought I did well but then I got a bit of cramp so I had to come off early. But I loved it, it was a great experience.”
McDonnell, who is set to sign a new contract with the Blues, is targeting first-team action on a more regular basis in the season ahead with Town and, having been capped at U16, U17, U18 and U19 levels, an Ireland U21 call-up.
“Definitely to kick on more. Last year I was happy to make the bench. This year I want to be playing. To kick on 100 per cent.
“Last year was the U19s [with Ireland] but now it’s the U21s so this year I’ll be aiming to make the U21s definitely.”
Photo: Action Images
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