raham McConnell, a former Irish League manager with Larne and Carrick Rangers, announced to friends on his Facebook page that he had to quit because “all I can do is what I believe to be right”.
His statement, which was accompanied by a broken heart emoji, reflected his upset at having to lose “an opportunity this season to coach at what I believed to be one of the biggest/greatest clubs in N Ireland”.
He said: “Disappointment doesn’t even cover it! Actually the overriding emotion is one of hurt! Disgust maybe!”
The former goalkeeper said in his social media post that in his opinion Donnelly didn’t deserve a second chance at the football club. He added: “Disgust that myself and others like me (who are in no way saints!!!) are pushed aside whilst these ‘people’ are looked upon as some sort of idols! Are they really the kind of ‘role models’ we want our children to aspire to be like???
“My role at Glentoran was at youth level so the likelihood of me ever coming into direct contact with the player were slim but to work under the same umbrella and same club badge is something that I simply could not stomach!”
In a follow-up Facebook message, Graham said he was hungry to find a new club and laid out his qualifications.
Premiership heavyweights Glentoran defended signing former Cliftonville striker Donnelly last week.
The 25-year-old served a three-month prison sentence last year for distributing an indecent image of a child.
The east Belfast club’s manager Mick McDermott said the footballer deserves an opportunity to rebuild his life and career.
But the Belfast Feminist Network said they were “appalled” and “disappointed” at the decision and many others expressed their opposition online and on a radio phone-in programme, with some Glens fans saying they would stop supporting their team over it.
In June 2016, Donnelly took a photograph of a 16-year-old girl while they were having sex.The photo was sent to a friend and a WhatsApp group that included fellow Cliftonville players. It was then leaked and appeared on social media.
In November 2018 Donnelly admitted distributing an indecent image of a child and was later sentenced to four months in jail, reduced to three months on appeal.
Mr McDermott said while neither he nor the club could condone Donnelly’s behaviour, he had “served a harsh punishment for what he did”. When Sunday Life approached Graham McConnell yesterday, he declined to comment, but a friend told us: “He doesn’t want to do an interview but actions speak louder than words. He was loving it at the Glens — until this happened. He told me he got home from a friendly on Wednesday and saw the news on TV and that was it for him. He can’t work for a club that supports a convicted sex offender, there’s no grey areas with Big Graham.”
Ex-Northern Ireland star Gareth McAuley has waded into the Jay Donnelly controversy in his Sunday Life column today, warning “the level of scorn for the 25-year-old will not recede in days, months or even years”.
“Glentoran insist Donnelly deserves a second chance and yes, he is allowed to rebuild his life but he lost all rights to a career in professional or semi-professional sport when he was convicted of a sexual offence against a minor,” he said.