Accrington Stanley’s Jimmy Dunne basking in glow of promotion

20-year-old defender played a key if unexpected role in club’s League Two campaign

Twenty year-old defender Jimmy Dunne says winning promotion with Accrington Stanleyt on Tuesday night was an unexecpected thrill towards the end of a season in which he had originally been happy just to get his first real taste of senior football in England.

Dunne, 20, from Dundalk, started his career at Manchester United but moved to Burnley a couple of years ago. After starting the current campaign at non-league Barrow he joined Accrington on loan in January having caught the eye of manager John Coleman, who was previously in charge at Sligo Rovers.

“Nobody said anything about winning promotion when I came,” a delighted Dunne said in the wake of Tuesday evening’s 2-0 win over Yeovil which clinched promotion to League One next season. “Nobody even said anything about winning!

“They said go, learn your trade, develop your defending, develop your game. I never in my wildest dreams imagined the feeling I have got now with clinching promotion. And to do it with a couple of games left and to go and try and win the league, that makes it even better.”

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Dunne, who made his first appearance for the Irish under-21s in March, made two substitute appearances for Coleman back in January before getting the first of 12 league starts, none of them defeats, in which his performances earned considerable praise

“I am a young lad,” he said in an interview with the club website. “Some of the lads have experienced the other side of things where they have lost and didn’t get to celebrate so it is even sweeter for them. For me I just think it’s the greatest experience ever, I will never experience anything like this again.

“There are people who go their whole careers without winning anything or getting promoted so it’s an achievement I want to cherish. You might never get that feeling again so you enjoy it while it lasts.

“I feel like I have developed so much, become more of a man. There are loads of things I need to work on but I have got a feeling of what it’s like to be a real footballer and a man and the responsibilities which come with it.

“When you find a club which you fit in with so well, you are winning games and all the lads are great and the staff are great, you love everybody, it’s an amazing feeling.”

Tuesday's win sent Accrington, who are captained by Seamus Conneely, four points clear at the top of League Two and put 11 points between them and fourth placed Exeter City, who have just three league games left to play.

Meanwhile midfielder Alan Sheehan, who plays with second placed Luton Town, was the only Irish player to make any of the four PFA Teams of the Tear named on Wednesday.

Emmet Malone

Emmet Malone

Emmet Malone is Industry and Employment Correspondent at The Irish Times