HE RETURNED to League of Ireland football this season with new club Treaty United of Limerick and tonight he will face his former club Cobh Ramblers in what he expects to be a tough challenge.
Anto O’Donnell has got off to a fantastic start of the season where his side have picked up four points in their opening two games with him scoring the game’s only goal in last week’s victory over Wexford.
He was thrilled to have got on the scoresheet but the Carrigaline man knows the three points were what mattered most.
“When you win a game 1-0 and you either had a hand in the goal or scored yourself it’s always a nice feeling, but getting the three points is what mattered,“ said O’Donnell.
“It’s always nice to score a goal but to get the very first goal for a new club in the league of Ireland is special and also it’s the first goal scored by Treaty United in the home ground the Markets Field so it is a good boost certainly heading into tonight’s game.
“We play Cobh which is another hard fixture and of course after them losing to UCD last week, Stuart Ashton will have them fired up looking for a reaction. We will just focus on ourselves and it’s just one more game in a long season.
“So far our two opening games have been very tough. Bray are a good side as you see their 3-3 draw with Shelbourne last week just shows what kind of a side they have.
“And Wexford were better than us in the first 20 minutes and kept the ball very well and looked dangerous on a few occasions. But we battled hard and did well to get the win. It’s still early days and we know we have a long way to go. I think we will be able to get a better picture as to where we are as an outfit after 10 or so games.
“We have no expectations and we play without any pressure as it’s all on the other teams to beat us We have nothing to lose but everything to gain. Looking at some of the teams in the league I think that this season could very well be the toughest that we have seen in years.
“On the day, every side is capable of beating the other and this is what makes it an exciting league.”
Capped at international U18 and colleges level, the 26-year-old from Carrigaline played schoolboys soccer with Leeds and Ringmahon where he had a lot of success.
After the U16 season with the Cork Schoolboys League, winning the Munster and All-Ireland titles, O’Donnell was signed by Limerick FC. He spent a few seasons there in the A Championship and U19 LoI while also training with the Limerick senior side.
They were a great outfit with the likes of Joe Gamble and Denis Behan and O’Donnell found it hard to break into the team but his League of Ireland experience didn’t end there.
I have played in over 70 games in the League of Ireland and bearing in mind the last season I played was with Cobh back in 2017 when we picked up the league runners-up medal.
“It’s great to be back playing in the league again you would certainly miss the buzz of football at that level. I found juggling work and football back then too much so took time out and I went back and played locally with Ringmahon Rangers in the Munster Senior League.
“However, I always wanted to challenge myself and this gives me that challenge every week.”
Enjoying his time at his new club, O’Donnell believes his side are a hard-working and honest group who will no doubt give it 110% this season.
“To be fair, they are a very hard working and honest group, and I am happy to be part of such a great club.
“Moving to Treaty came about when manager Tommy Barrett who I have known for some time got in touch with me. I spoke with my boss Brian Martin at Martin Scaffolding and they were very supportive and continue to be with me. I am also nearing the end of my pharmaceutical course so the timing was good.
“Once I spoke with Tommy, no other club would have come into the reckoning as my mind was made up. It helps having other Cork lads involved in the side we all get on and divide up the driving.
“Many Cork lads over the years have found themselves playing in Limerick and it’s a great footballing city. The professionalism and set up at the club are great.
Wearing the number six, O’Donnell is playing a vital role in the middle of the park and he hopes he can carry his form into tonight’s game and going forward.
“It’s been a great start to the season. However, there is always room for improvement. We didn’t have a proper pre-season as we would have liked to but we are gelling as best we can as a team and with every game we hope our performances can improve."
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