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LEGEND ON THE LINE; Jimmy Donnelly

I often thought of doing a 50 Best of Blues footballers, but I'd find that so hard for fear of leaving someone out, but, personally, if that list was ever made up, I'd have one Jimmy Donnelly in that esteemed list.

Jimmy was one of the darling's of a Waterford side in the Eighties, that entertained us in, what could be a sparse or sensational Kilcohan Park, that many of my old age will remember. His connection with Waterford Football Club remains so it was nice that I had a chance to talk to him about his time, not only with the Blues, but a career that also saw him play for our friendly neighbours of the day (Kilkenny City) and our mortal rivals (Shamrock Rovers) though we'll forgive him that!

How did it come about that you signed for the Blues?

Well I joined Waterford from EMFA (which of course would go on to be Kilkenny City) and I also remember my first senior game with the Blues. That was against Athlone Town in a league cup fixture.

How influential were some of the Waterford players to you at that time as you were learning your trade with the club?

Ger O'Mahoney is a man that will always stand out in the department He played Right Full behind me and was always giving me the right advice. You know, where to be when we had the ball, and when we didn't. That help me so much. I'd also have to mention Mike Bennett, a superb bloke that I struck a great relationship with.

Are there any early games for the Blue you can recall that make good memories?

Lots of memories but I remember a nine minute hat-trick against Cobh Ramblers that stood out. I was lucky to play so many games with the club but that memory is just one that stands out. Another thing that I loved was the away games, with the Showgrounds in Sligo being my favourite. For some reason I always done well when we were playing Sligo Rovers in their home ground.

There's always a Best and Worst of games for any club. Can you pick out two of those that you can remember?

As I said, lots of good games, my best was possibly away to Saint Patrick's Athletic (always a tough place to go) where Mike Bennett notched the winner. But the worst? That's hands down the 1986 FAI Cup Final against Shamrock Rovers. We just didn't show up at all. It was an absolute disaster. The dubious first goal and then the OG. It was hard to come back from that. No half time team talk was ever going to save that.

And the managers you played under?

Really Alfie Hale was my only manager at, what was then, Waterford United. I cannot speak highly enough about the man. Alfie kept it easy. His tactics where always simple, but when you heard him use bad language you knew he was upset and he wasn't happy. That was fine. We knew where we stood with him.

You would then leave Waterford United you hooked up with Kilkenny City and of course Shamrock Rovers. A good time in your career?

My time at Kilkenny City was something I really enjoyed. The First Division title under Alfie Hale was absolutely superb. As for Rovers? Everything seemed to be going well until I got badly injured in a game against Derry City in the Brandywell. As it turned out I'd done my ACL and Lateral ligament which was a huge blow. Basically that was that then.

I'm sure there are some funny moments you can recall as a Waterford player. Would you like to share one?

I do remember there's a story one Sunday morning when I was getting a train to Waterford for a game. I had met a few Blues supporters on the way back from a Leeds United game and when I went to the toilet they put vodka and porn magazines in my kit bag!

And what of the current set up at Waterford FC?

It's great to see the club back in the Premier Division and long may it stay that way.


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