| 10°C Dublin


Dunne's Premier League bow a reward for his loan adventures

Daniel McDonnell


Leicester City 4 Burnley 2

Close

Jamie Vardy can find no way past Burnley’s Jimmy Dunne last night. Photo: Rui Vieira/NMC Pool/PA Wire

Jamie Vardy can find no way past Burnley’s Jimmy Dunne last night. Photo: Rui Vieira/NMC Pool/PA Wire

PA

Jamie Vardy can find no way past Burnley’s Jimmy Dunne last night. Photo: Rui Vieira/NMC Pool/PA Wire

The professional reaction at the full-time whistle was a show of disappointment. But despite tasting defeat away to Leicester, this was a special day in the life of 22-year-old Louthman Jimmy Dunne who marked his first Premier League appearance with a second-half goal.

It briefly added suspense to the final quarter of a game that Leicester had controlled when it mattered, but it was quickly cancelled out by a Dennis Praet strike that sent Brendan Rodgers towards a relatively comfortable victory.

Prior to that goal, the hosts had a brief scare when Jamie Vardy went down injured after he was caught late by Dunne. The young Irishman will have learned a lot from the experience of attempting to track players of that quality.

Dunne has worked hard to get this opportunity, and made his debut next to his compatriot, Kevin Long, another player that had to work the loan circuit before getting the opportunity under Sean Dyche.

Close

Soccer Football - Premier League - Leicester City v Burnley - King Power Stadium, Leicester, Britain - September 20, 2020 Burnley's Jimmy Dunne scores their second goal Pool via REUTERS/Peter Powell EDITORIAL USE ONLY. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or 'live' services. Online in-match use limited to 75 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications.  Please contact your account representative for further details.

Soccer Football - Premier League - Leicester City v Burnley - King Power Stadium, Leicester, Britain - September 20, 2020 Burnley's Jimmy Dunne scores their second goal Pool via REUTERS/Peter Powell EDITORIAL USE ONLY. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or 'live' services. Online in-match use limited to 75 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications. Please contact your account representative for further details.

Pool via REUTERS

Soccer Football - Premier League - Leicester City v Burnley - King Power Stadium, Leicester, Britain - September 20, 2020 Burnley's Jimmy Dunne scores their second goal Pool via REUTERS/Peter Powell EDITORIAL USE ONLY. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or 'live' services. Online in-match use limited to 75 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications. Please contact your account representative for further details.

Long has effectively made his career as a reliable squad man and remains so low profile in the UK that BBC co-commentator Martin Keown described the Corkman as 'young' during last night's encounter. He turned 30 in August.

Still, Long's experience demonstrates how hard it can be to establish yourself in the English top flight and Dunne is coming out on the right side of all the percentages by reaching that stage.

Dunne, who hails from the village of Blackrock on the outskirts of Dundalk, has benefited from an injury crisis and the depleted nature of Dyche's squad to come to the fore.

His contract is up at the end of the season so he started the campaign knowing he had to make an impact.

Dyche's difficulties have provided his opportunity.

With James Tarkowski and Ben Mee sidelined, the path was clear for Dunne to come into the frame with a midweek EFL Cup meeting with Sheffield United and he kept his place for their league opener.

Leicester were also without their leading defender, Jonny Evans, and he might prove to be a good role model for Dunne. There's more than one crossover in their respective stories.

Dunne left home as a teenager to join Manchester United, a massive source of pride for his locality. He was a talented GAA player as a kid, lining out for Geraldines, a team based in the Blackrock/Haggardstown area.

His father, Eamonn, a schoolteacher and former footballer with Louth, is the Geraldines senior manager and was a lively presence during his son's formative days.

GAA was pretty much abandoned after U-14 level as a stint in Dublin with St Kevin's Boys and exploits with local side Rock Celtic brought representative honours and a growing list of admirers.

Brian McClair was involved in the successful attempts to sell United but they always had a head-start as Dunne had been involved with their Belfast academy from the age of 10.

Alas, it didn't really work out at Old Trafford, although he made firm friends including Paddy McNair, another academy graduate that has thrived elsewhere.

The link to Evans is strengthened by the fact that his father Jackie, a one-time coach at the United academy, is now a player agent and looks after Dunne through his job with an agency established by ex-Red Devils defender Colin Murdock - another individual who never played a first-team match for the club but made a solid career elsewhere.

They were well-placed to advise Dunne on what can be achieved after the crushing disappointment of saying goodbye to such a big club.

He signed for Burnley in 2016 and had low-profile stints with Barrow and Accrington Stanley before proving a fan favourite in Scotland with Hearts, where they were disappointed to only keep hold of him for half a season.

Dunne then had stays with Sunderland and Fleetwood where he enjoyed mixed fortunes. His relationship with the latter ended abruptly with Joey Barton stating that Dunne was guilty of a breach of discipline and had 'crossed the line.' Pals of the player say there are two sides to that story.

His Irish international experiences haven't proved straightforward either. Noting that he was out of favour at U-21 level, then Northern Irish boss Michael O'Neill made an attempt to try and get Dunne to switch allegiance in 2018. He was well briefed on the player's situation given who he was represented by.

All of a sudden, Dunne found himself back in Noel King's plans and he was then named in Martin O'Neill's long list for his final senior squad. Clearly, there was a determination to avoid an embarrassing situation.

"He owes me two cappuccinos," joked the younger O'Neill after it was confirmed his pursuit had ended in failure. "We knew Jimmy had a grandparent from Northern Ireland.

"I told him if it was something he wanted to explore then great, but it’s a massive decision and I told him I wouldn’t expect him to make the decision lightly. I'm delighted for him. To be called up after 15 minutes of U-21 football . . . he must have been very good in those 15 minutes."

Stephen Kenny, who will be irked by the minor setback that ended Robbie Brady's evening prematurely, should be well briefed on what the latest Premier debutant has to offer. He lives in Blackrock, a short distance from the Dunne family home.

Indo Sport