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Johnny Dunleavy Interview by Eoin Donovan

With his family tearfully saying goodbye on his 16th birthday, Donegal man Johnny Dunleavy made the lonely trip to Wolverhampton to start life as a professional footballer.

In England, he played for Wolves and after a breif spell at Barnet, he moved home to Ireland to play for Cork City FC.

The defender now kicks a ball with Sligo Rovers after winning everything he could have at the Rebel Army.

Johnny: “I loved my time at Wolves,” he told Pro-Scout 3.

Johnny: “When I left on my 16th birthday, my mam was crying in the door as the car pulled away. Over there I had bad luck with injuries but I pushed through each time.”

Johnny: “I was playing with the u19s and reserves at Wolves and was then loaned out to Barnet in League Two. Gong there meant the world to me as it was my first taste of men’s football”.

Johnny: “Looking back now, I don’t think there’s a big difference between English and Irish football, I think the League of Ireland is underestimated by people in England. A lot of really good players have went on to play for the Irish team after starting out in the League of Ireland. And not so long ago, Irish teams were in Europa League group stages”.

On returning to Ireland, he became apart of a Cork City team who would win a league title, two FAI Cups, three Presidents Cups, and three Munster Senior Cups. He would also play in the Europa League and Champions League with the club.

Johnny: “Out of everything I won at City, winning the league means the most to me. We started the season incredibly well and we were eighteen points clear at the break. We were going into games thinking much we’d win by.”

Johnny: “Getting injured against Limerick was a killer but I bounced back. I knew straight away that night that my knee was bad. Thankfully the physios, doctors and ambulance service were all brilliant to me.”

Dunleavy moved west to sign for the Bit O’Red in 2019 and pushed the club to the semi finals of the FAI Cup and into seventh in the table. Right now he is busy preparing for the return of league action after the COVID-19 shut down.

Johnny: “Training during the lockdown has been tough as we have had to train on our own. The club have given us training programmes so when we do go back we should all be fit enough to get straight into the football again!”