Matty Hayward – @MattyHayward96
Matty discusses new Gull Shaun Donnellan
Gary Johnson’s transfer conveyor belt continues to whirr. On Friday night it delivered two more signings: a goalkeeper, Ryan Lovett, and a new utility man, Shaun Donnellan. My focus is on the latter, who joins the Yellows following his release from Maidenhead United.
Donnellan was born in Barnet into a footballing family. His dad (Leo) played for Fulham, his uncle (Gary) Reading, and his younger brother (Leo Jr) for Dagenham and Redbridge.
Shaun started his youth career on the books of West Bromwich Albion. He never appeared for the Baggies, but was loaned out to four different clubs: Worcester City (16 apps, four goals); Stevenage (no apps); Dagenham and Redbridge (19 appearances, where he was a regular, losing in the playoffs to Forest Green); Walsall (10 apps).
While at Dagenham, Donnellan was called up to Republic of Ireland’s U21 squad for their World Cup Qualifying campaign. Eligible through his father, and having represented the green army at U19 level twice, Donnellan went on to play eight times for the U21s across 2017 and 2018. He scored the only goal in a victory over Azerbaijan, which is sure to live long in the memory of all in attendance. Ireland finished fourth in their group.
After his loan spell at Walsall, The Don was released by WBA in January 2018 and picked up by Yeovil. He played 22 times for the Glovers, but his contract was terminated by mutual consent the following January, and he joined Maidstone United. He saw out the season at Maidstone, and moved west to Woking for a year (33 apps, two goals), then Maidenhead (43 apps, three goals).
At 25, Donnellan has played 150 games at this level or above, and represented his country. Using that as a very surface-level guide, this looks like it could be a decent signing.
I mean, there’s not a load to get your heart racing here. A couple of lovely strikes from outside the box, a couple of set-piece goals, and, for some reason, a pretty non-descript tackle on Adam Randell. He’s a midfielder/defender, though, he’s not in the team to make the highlights package.
POSITION – Defender/Midfielder
DATE OF BIRTH – 16/10/1996
HEIGHT – 1.83m
BIRTHPLACE – Barnet
PREVIOUS CLUBS – West Brom, Worcester, Stevenage, Dagenham, Walsall, Yeovil, Maidstone, Woking, Maidenhead
STATS 21-22 – National League: Played 28, Goals 1, Yellow/Red Cards 6/0
Gary Johnson on Shaun – “Shaun is a very strong player who can play in several defensive or midfield positions. He’s a competitor with experience in our league, and we’re happy to have secured his services”.
MOST/LEAST LIKELY TO
Most Likely To:
- Form part of the new-look Big Yellow Bastards. The Don is 6ft2, and joins a long list of our new signings who are built like brick outhouses. If we’re going to win the league, doing it by being absolutely horrible and scoring set-pieces is absolutely how I want to do it.
- Be in real competition for places. The middle of midfield is now rammed with options.
- Be used elsewhere. As a result, he could be utilised in the middle of the defence, where he has been used in the past, or even covering at full back.
Least Likely To:
- Ever leave Torquay. If you’d spent your life in Woking and Yeovil, why would you eschew the seaside?
These profiles are much easier and more interesting to write when we know a) what the squad is looking like, b) where the gaps are, c) whether the new man fills those gaps. Like many of this summer’s signings, Donnellan isn’t exactly an exciting player, but he looks a good acquisition all the same. I don’t think anyone would’ve said we desperately need a central midfielder, with Hall, Lapslie, Hanson and McGavin all at our disposal. However, we know that neither Hall nor Lapslie have an excellent record with injuries, and the Gaffer has stated that he wants to be confident that those who replace absent players are as good as those missing out. That requires a deep squad, with backups who are more able than Joe Felix and Chiori Johnson, and it requires players like Donnellan who can play multiple roles with competence. Donnellan may not win us many individual games, but players like him win teams titles.
No, I am NOT getting ahead of myself. Matty