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Dundalk FC will give chances to young stars ‘if they are good enough’ says Stephen O’Donnell


Stephen O’Donnell has given some of the club’s younger stars hope of first-team action this season after several of them stood out in Friday’s pre-season friendly with Finn Harps.


Rich underage international Sean Mullen started in an unfamiliar full-back role in a scoreless draw at Oriel Park, while Eoin Kenny, Calum Bonner, Oisin Coleman, Jake Hough and Anthony Mayo all made good appearances off the bench in the second half.

While it is not uncommon for young players to feature in pre-season matches, O’Donnell said he would be open-minded to including them in his first-team plans as the year progresses.

When asked if promoting some youngsters was an option, he said, “If they are good enough, we will.”

“We are not going to do it as a token gesture. There has to be a balance. We certainly want our own young players to come forward, but there has to be certain potential.


“The young players who played tonight were excellent. I didn’t even show Sanon in his best light because he is a central midfield player, but just from a personnel point of view and balance point of view he had to play left-back, but he is a central midfield player. The player is and he will be a really good one.

“Then the other boys who came in, I thought they were all excellent. Anthony played last week and did very well and then came back and looked very lively in the second half of this week. Then we had a 15-minute cameo by Oisin Coleman and he did very well. I thought some of his passing range was very good.

“Then Jake came in at left-back. I thought his composure and how comfortable he was on the ball was outstanding. Then Callum Bonner, who was also included last week, was very lively and had good pace and good feet. Then Eoin Kenny, as you can see from his frame, is going to be a real handful. He is mobile. Usually players as tall as or as tall as the youth are not the most mobile, but they are also mobile.


“They all did really well and they just need to keep making progress and just keep shining and stand out when they’re training and playing with the U19s. They’ll get opportunities to train with us and they’ll Just needs to keep making progress but he’s definitely shown real potential,” O’Donnell said.

While the match with Dave Rogers’ side did not result in a win for Dundalk, the Lillywhites boss said he was pleased with the workout overall.

“I’m glad,” he said.


“We came through, touch wood, done. Before the game the pitch looked a bit frozen and that was my main concern but everyone survived it and it was a good job.

“We are small bodies. There are a lot of boys on the treatment table but hopefully they will slowly come back over the next few weeks. We haven’t trained in the big venues at all so the only performances they have anywhere near full size are tonight and last week’s match. We expect more boys to come back over the next few weeks and try it Will increase

“We have a lot of quality coming back and when we marry them all it will be quite exciting.”

O’Donnell was also happy to give four of his new signings – Louie Ainsley, Hayden Muller, Conor Malle and Cameron Elliott – their first outings at Oriel Park.

“That’s why I wanted a 7:45pm kick-off on Friday, just to get them used to the surroundings and doing it on a home match night,” he said.

“They all have really good attributes and I thought they did well. It’s not easy coming in for your first home game. They’re just on the doorstep and we’ve really got to shape up with them as a group in big venues.” Haven’t done anything game-wise etc. They all have really good attributes, good age profiles and I think they’ll be really good players for the club.

“I don’t want the pre-season to be flying by and you’re beating everybody up because that can give you a false sense of security. With the pre-season and the depth of our squad and the way we’re giving minutes, That’s never going to be a great rhythm. It was always going to be like that, so I want guys who are fit, get more minutes on their feet and come back injury free. We’re better than last year. We are in a much better position but we just need to try and build on it.

Dundalk continue their pre-season preparations this Friday when they travel to Abbotstown to face Cork City. The launch is at 2 pm.


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