Promising defender Jimmy Dunne (15) has secured a dream move to Premier League champions Manchester United. The deal concludes a long-running pursuit of the Louth teenager by the English giants.

The Dundalk youngster has been tracked by a number of cross-channel clubs over the past number of years but United were always in pole position, having drafted him into their Belfast-based academy when he was just 10 years old.

Dunne had spells with St Kevin’s Boys in Dublin but was most recently with Rock Celtic, who are based in Blackrock, just outside Dundalk.

A 6′ 2″ centre-half, Dunne also attracted interest from Aston Villa and Chelsea but opted join United. He will sign a four-year contract when he reaches his 16th birthday on October 19 but will move to Manchester this week to begin the academic year in his new school before beginning training.

“There were other teams interested but from the minute I went to Carrington, I knew that was the right move for me,” Dunne told the Irish Independent.

“It’s a huge club with a great history and they have been very supportive of me right from the start.

“I know it will be a massive challenge but I will be surrounded by good players and excellent coaches and that can only help improve my game. I can’t wait to get started.”

While the youngster made trips to several English clubs in the past year, the family were particularly impressed with United’s approach.

The club sent their education officer to the De La Salle school in Dundalk to discuss his ongoing education over the course of his contract.

United and Scotland legend Brian McClair, who is the club’s academy director, was also in discussions with the family in a bid to persuade the teenager to sign on the dotted line.

Dunne has captained Dundalk schoolboys at Northern Ireland’s Milk Cup competition, and also played for the Dublin and District Schoolboys League (DDSL) representative team.

His mother Sharon Treacy-Dunne is the director of the Cross Border Orchestra Ireland, while his father Eamonn Dunne is a former Louth senior gaelic footballer and is a teacher at the Patrician HS in Carrickmacross.


“Manchester United have been great from the start,” Eamonn said. “It’s a big decision to go over when you are still quite young but Jimmy was very keen and ever since he first started going over there they have looked after him really well.

“They gave us all the assurances we needed, so we know he’s going to the right place.”

Dunne will link up with two other Irish players in United’s academy. Defender Ryan McConnell from Donegal and striker Sam Byrne from Kill in Co Kildare both played for the club’s youth team last season.

The duo are part of Paul Doolin’s Ireland’s U-19 squad for this week’s double-header friendly against Norway, to be played tomorrow in Bray and Thursday at Belfield.

Dunne, no doubt, will be hoping his move to United helps him earn a call-up for Ireland’s U-17 UEFA European Championship qualifying campaign.

Source: Independent