Liam Donnelly: Motherwell ace didn't expect to wait five years for Northern Ireland return

Liam Donnelly roars with delight after scoring penalty against Hamilton Accies (Pic by Ian McFadyen)
Liam Donnelly roars with delight after scoring penalty against Hamilton Accies (Pic by Ian McFadyen)

The stratospheric rise of Motherwell ace Liam Donnelly this season has seen him net an incredible seven times in seven league and cup appearances.

Donnelly, excelling in a new midfield role having scored just once in seven appearances when playing centre back for ’Well last season, was today (Wednesday) handed a Northern Ireland international call-up for the Green Army’s home friendly against Luxembourg on Thursday, September 5.

Donnelly (23), whose one senior international appearance came when he played as a substitute against Chile in June 2014, has been selected along with a Fir Park team-mate, goalkeeper Trevor Carson.

Donnelly told the Times and Speaker: “When I played against Chile five years ago I didn’t expect it to be as long until the second one.

“Hopefully I’ll get a few minutes.

“I’m delighted to have scored seven goals already this season.

“I think I would have taken seven for the full season if you had said at the start.

“Listen, I’m happy obviously with it but it’s an extra bonus.

“It’s not really my job but I’m happy.

“Just moving into midfield has added a bit more freedom.

“Obviously against Accies I scored a penalty so I haven’t really done much for it.

“But I’m happy if they keep going in so keep them coming.”

Donnelly’s latest goal for Motherwell came in the Steelmen’s 3-1 Scottish Premiership success at Hamilton Accies on Saturday.

The bearded hitman expertly converted from the spot to put his side 2-0 up after 21 minutes of an action packed Lanarkshire derby.

Motherwell’s dominant performance against Accies came eight days after the Steelmen had disappointed in a 2-0 home Betfred Cup second round defeat by Hearts in their previous match.

Donnelly said: “It was a great opportunity for us really to put a few wrongs right after last week.

“Everybody was up for it.

“You are always going to be for a derby.

“It wasn’t going to be an easy game but we came and had a game plan.

“I think we stuck to it well, put them under pressure and got the win we deserved.

“For a 3G pitch it was good.

“There was great backing from our fans as always.

“We knew we’d bring a big following.

“They got right behind us.

“It’s an extra bonus having them behind us.

“I got a buzz scoring that penalty in front of them, it’s always nice to hear the roars after.

“I’m glad we got the win.”

The match also featured another addition to the growing number of controversial penalties awarded this season in the wake of the implementation of a new rule dictating that a spot kick is given every time the ball hits a player’s arm in their own box, regardless of whether it is interpreted as deliberate.

It went against Motherwell shortly after Donnelly’s spot kick, as Ross Cunningham blasted home from a penalty at the other end after handball by Peter Hartley. The award looked soft in the extreme.

Asked for his opinions on the new penalty law, Donnelly added: “It’s different to how it used to be but it’s the new rules of the game.

“We just have to deal with what we’re given.”

With Motherwell sixth in the table after their first Premiership win of the campaign, the mood has been transformed to one of buoyancy ahead of this Saturday’s home league game against Hibernian at Fir Park, kick-off 3pm.

Donnelly said: “Hibs is never going to be an easy game.

“They are a good side but so are we.

“I think we showed that a bit more against Hamilton. We need to keep that going.”