Amid rumours of Stephen O’Donnell’s impending retirement, James Rogers looks back at some of the key stats in the career of a League of Ireland legend.
· There have been 384 league matches played since Stephen O’Donnell made his debut in the league for Bohemians in a 2-1 win over Cork City at Dalymount Park on August 10th 2007. He started just 155 of league games since then (40.4%), and featured in just 206 of them (53.6%).
· In total he made 287 appearances for five League of Ireland clubs, 220 of them from the start. He had 26 European appearances in total – the same number of games he had played in the FAI Cup.
· Of that there were 111 league appearances for Dundalk, 79 from the start.
· He had 28 career goals in the LOI, 13 for Dundalk, five for Rovers, 8 for Galway and 2 for Bohs. 20 of them were in the Premier Division, 2 apiece in the FAI Cup, LSC and Europe with one in the Setanta Cup. Eight of his goals were penalties. He scored more goals at Oriel Park (7) than any other venue while Bohs and Drogheda (4 each) were the teams he scored most against. Adding in the 3 goals he scored during his time at Falkirk, he scored 31 goals in his career.
· His first LOI goal came on September 28th 2007 in a 3-0 win for Bohs over Sligo Rovers at Dalymount. He scored the opener with former Dundalk players Darren Mansaram and Mark Rossiter also on target. Ironically four former Dundalk players also found the net in his first game against Dundalk on May 5th2008. Bohs won 4-0 in the League Cup with Jason Byrne, Harpal Singh, Chris Turner and Darren Mansaram scoring.
· He only scored and lost twice in his career and also only missed two penalties.
· He had eight red cards in his LOI career, the first of which came on August 22nd 2008 away to his hometown Galway Utd in a 2-0 win for Bohs.
· His time at Cork City was summed up by his debut. He came on as a 66thminute sub for Fahrudin Kuduzovic on March 7th 2009 but later had to be subbed himself for Greg O’Halloran on 89 minutes. He would miss 12 games in all competitions before next appearing for Cork in a 1-0 win over Derry City at Turner’s Cross on May 15th 2009. He came off the bench before being sent off. His first Cork start wouldn’t come until June 2nd that year when he played in a 2-1 defeat to Drogheda Utd at United Park.
· In 2010 he returned home to play for Galway Utd but was sent off on his debut after just 17 minutes in a match away to St Patrick’s Athletic for supposed simulation. His first goal for the Tribesmen would come in a 3-2 win away to Bohs on April 16th 2010. He scored the winner from the spot in the 94thminute but was sent off a minute later. His only career brace would come when he scored two penalties in a 2-1 win for Galway at home to Drogheda Utd on August 20th 2010. All five of his goals for Galway were from the spot.
· O’Donnell would go on to sign for Shamrock Rovers ahead of their memorable 2011 campaign, scoring on his debut in a 2-0 Leinster Senior Cup win over Dundalk at Oriel Park on February 22nd 2011. His league debut for the Hoops came as a substitute for Gary Twigg in a 0-0 draw away to Derry City in the Brandywell on March 25th 2011 but injury problems meant he wouldn’t play again until replacing Stephen Rice against Bray on May 26th that year. His first league start came four days later in a 1-0 win over Bohs.
· His penalty against Partizan Belgrade famously earned Rovers a crack at the Europa League but he would go on to miss the first spot kick of his career in the opening match of the group stages when his effort was saved by Sergei Ryzhikov in a 3-0 win for Rubin Kazan in Tallaght.
· He would link up with Stephen Kenny at Shamrock Rovers in 2012 but barely played for his future Dundalk manager. His first league appearance of 2012 didn’t come until June 29th when he came on as a half-time sub for Kerrea Gilbert but he was sent off on 57thminute for taking down Keith Ward as Bohs won 4-0 at Dalymount Park. His first league start of 2012 didn’t arrive until July 20th against Bray Wanderers in Tallaght.
· His Dundalk debut came as a 66thminute sub for John Mountney in a Leinster Senior Cup match v Sheriff YC at Fairview Park on February 20th 2013 – a game which the Lilywhites won 2-0 after extra-time. His first Dundalk goal came in a 3-1 win away to Shelbourne in Tolka Park on March 25th 2013. The first of 3 red cards for the club came in a 1-0 win away to Sligo Rovers on May 28th2013 when he picked up a second yellow card in the 94th minute for simulation. He would also be sent-off later that season on September 20th in a 2-0 defeat away to Pat’s which effectively decided the destination of the title for a push on Ger O’Brien. His final red would come in the 1-1 draw away to AZ Alkmaar in the opening Europa League group stage game in September 2016.
· His first league goal for Dundalk came in a 1-0 win over Drogheda Utd on September 8th 2013 when he popped up with an 88th minute winner. He would miss the last penalty of his career on the final day of that season when he fired over late on in a 1-1 draw with Bohemians at Dalymount.
· His 2014 campaign was curtailed by a serious cruciate knee ligament injury sustained in a 2-2 draw with Shamrock Rovers on Good Friday 2014 but he would return to the starting line-up on the final day of the season to score the opener in a 2-0 win over Cork City at Oriel Park which secured the Lilywhites’ first league title in 19 years.
· His injury problems would persist throughout his time at Oriel Park. Despite nine substitute appearances beforehand, his first league start of the 2015 season didn’t arrive until June 26th but he marked it with a fourth minute goal in a 6-2 win over Limerick FC at Oriel Park.
· The only time he scored and lost with Dundalk came in a 3-1 defeat against Bray Wanderers at Oriel Park on April 14th 2017. His final goal for the Lilywhites came in extra-time of a 4-2 FAI Cup semi-final replay win over Shamrock Rovers in Tallaght Stadium on October 10th 2017.
· In what would prove to be his final season, O’Donnell would suffer a leg break in a 2-1 defeat away to Waterford in the RSC in May 2018. He would later return to lead the club out one more time in the final league game of the season – a 1-1 draw with Bohs in Dalymount.
· In total he made 152 appearances in all competitions for Dundalk, 112 of them from the start.
· He bows out of the game with six league titles to his credit, as well as 3 FAI Cups, 2 League Cups, a Setanta Cup and a host of other honours including international caps at underage level including U-21 and U-23.