Though last night’s transfer business extended to five the number of Donnellys in Cliftonville’s first-team squad, supporters might be surprised to learn that only two previous Donnellys have ever represented the Reds.
Most famously, of course, Mickey made a Club Record 611 appearances during the 1990s and early 2000s – however he was the first Donnelly to play for Cliftonville since the 1907/08 campaign, when A Donnelly featured twice as a goalkeeper.
Rory might be the most recent acquisition but he made his debut earlier than any of the current quintet, emerging from the bench in a County Antrim Shield clash with Linfield on September 7, 2010, with Martin the next to arrive when he played against The New Saints in a Europa League fixture on June 30, 2011.
Rory’s younger brother Jay was introduced in the Charity Shield victory over Ballymena United on August 2, 2014, while Gary was the only one of the five to find the net on his debut when he scored in the Club Record 11-1 victory over Lisburn Distillery a year ago today.
Aaron, who enjoyed his first outing of the current season in last night’s win over Banbridge Town, was given his bow in the 6-0 defeat of Annagh United on October 1, 2016 and is, to date, the final of seven Donnellys to have played for the Club, who average one Donnelly every 19.7 years – with five on the books at the same time!
Last night’s League Cup success also threw up additional milestones within the squad as Chris Curran marked his 150th appearance with a goal, Joe Gormley netted for the 125th time and the inevitable contribution from a Donnelly saw Jay score his eigth and ninth consecutive Solitude strikes.
Following our fifth competitive meeting with Banbridge, Cliftonville now edge proceedings with three wins to two and, curiously, all of our successes have been by 4-0 scorelines, following on from similar outcomes in 1992 (when three future Reds Managers in Marty Tabb, Eddie Patterson and Tommy Breslin were in the starting XI) and 1995, when the scoring was opened by none other than Mickey Donnelly.