League of Ireland veteran and current Dundalk skipper, Stephen O’Donnell is no stranger to the road one must take to recover from serious injury. O’Donnell broke onto the senior football scene all the way back in 2005, signing for Scottish league side Falkirk after ending a three-year association with Premier League giants Arsenal, where the midfielder had graduated from a trainee contract up to professional status, without making a first team-appearance in his time at Highbury.
Making just over fifty senior appearances for Falkirk, O’Donnell has only made another one-hundred-and-fifty or so outings in his career since, despite donning the jersey of five other clubs, four of which are based here in Ireland. Spells at Cork, Galway, Bohemians and Shamrock Rovers were brief and despite major success along the way it was the now thirty-two-year-olds move to County Louth and Dundalk FC that truly ignited the playmakers League of Ireland profession.
Signing for the “Lilywhites” in December 2012, O’Donnell has gone on to capture every major domestic trophy available with no less than three league titles, an FAI cup and two league cups gathered up during his time at Oriel Park. However, injuries, and some serious ones at that, have been a reoccurring theme across the skippers six-year spell under Stephen Kenny and on last night’s Between the Stripes LOI podcast O’Donnell revealed while his latest recovery is going to plan there is as of yet no date set for any possible return.
“Everything is going as expected and going to plan. I’m back to see the surgeon on the 28th of September and hopefully that will be the last time I see him and then I can crack on with my own recovery but everything is going to plan at the minute, there’s been no real set-backs so hopefully it stays like that.”
“It’s too early (to set a date of return), I’d have to get back doing all out training and you’d just be hoping there’s no set-backs at that stage, it’s just too hard to predict so I’ve just got to try and focus on recovering as quickly as I can.”
Despite the long-term absence of their inspirational leader, Dundalk are looking good to reclaim the league title Cork City won last season, following three in a row success by the “Lilywhites” in the seasons previous. Stephen Kenny’s men currently sit six-points clear of John Caulfield’s City and with a superior goal difference the County Louth side are now odds on favorites to capture a fourth league trophy in five seasons.
You can catch Stephen O’Donnell’s interview in full, in which the Dundalk captain also fielded questions on the future of hot-property Michael Duffy. O’Donnell’s interview starts on 6 minutes and you can listen to Series 2-Episode 23 of Between the Stripes LOI podcast below using the SoundCloud player, while the show is also available on a wealth of over platforms including Itunes, Audioboom, Podcast Republic, Spotify and TuneIn.