Connolly backing Chippy to make the step up

Padraig Whelan

Reporter:

Padraig Whelan

Dundalk U19s captain Conor McDonald
Dundalk have a reputation for putting faith in the youth they produce and another who could soon play an important role in first team matters is U19 captain Conor McDonald.

Dundalk have a reputation for putting faith in the youth they produce and another who could soon play an important role in first team matters is U19 captain Conor McDonald.

His manager Martin Connolly is backing the 18-year-old to follow in the footsteps of talents like Tiarnan Mulvenna, Marc Griffin, Ben McLaughlin and Nathan Murphy who have all followed a similar path.

‘Chippy’ turned in another starring role in his side’s 1-0 win away to Fanad United last weekend, leading Connolly to comment: “We decided to play Conor on the right due to injuries and he was excellent throughout, he really was.

“It was an absolutely outstanding performance and his strong running was excellent,” he enthused.

“I know that Stephen Kenny has watched him a couple of times and been really impressed with him and against Fanad he really played a captain’s role.

“When you are in a battle, he really rolls up his sleeves and gives it everything for you.”

McDonald is undoubtedly one of the hottest prospects at Oriel Park and one who has caught the attention ever since making his first team debut at the age of just 16 against St Patrick’s Athletic two years ago, making him one of the club’s youngest ever debutants.

Connolly admitted that while injuries have unfortunately stalled the progress of the youngster, he believes that his performances this season have shown that he would be very much capable of making the step up if called upon.

“Stephen would have had Conor in doing a bit of training with him last year and he has also been involved under Ian Foster and Sean McCaffrey as well in the past,” Connolly continued.

“He is one of those players who has been unlucky with injuries but he is a smashing kid and I really hope that he is (going to make the first team step up).

“From what myself, Mick Neville and Liam Burns have seen so far, he has really been one of the top players in our league.

“Derry have an excellent underage set up but when we played them Chippy has not only matched them but he has bettered them and any team that we have played, he has been the outstanding performer.”