Rory Donnelly – Consistency is the Key

One Gillingham player who seems to have divided opinion amongst the faithful over the last two seasons is a certain Luke Norris.

If you check Twitter or the Facebook after games there is quite often some healthy – and some unhealthy – debate running about the pros and cons of the ex Brentford hit man.

Some label him as a lazy player who doesn’t score enough goals or put in the effort, and others – myself included after his showings in 2015-16 – feel he is a young striker with massive potential that he now needs to start living up to.

On the up, from League 2 to League 1.

One front man that somewhat slips under the radar though – except for one sad incident where he and his partner were disgracefully abused on social media at the end of last season – is Rory Donnelly.

The Northern Irishman arrived last summer on a free from Swansea City, having spent the back end of the 2014-15 campaign on loan at League 2 strugglers Tranmere Rovers.

Justin Edinburgh spoke highly of him at the time, stating he was confident he could make the step up to the third tier.

There is something that has become very noticeable though about Donnelly and his goal scoring record.

I personally cannot fault him for effort because he is always willing to chase and harrass opposition defenders, but does this enthusiasm sometime border on being too much?

What I mean is can he harness it and channel it to when it is really needed, rather than going at 150mph the whole time, which sometimes seems to be the case?

And the reason I question this is because looking at his goals scored, they all come in bursts, but then in between he suffers long goal droughts.

The fact that he hasn’t scored for the Gills since January is a case in point.

But let’s go right back to the start, that loan spell at Tranmere.

He turned up in the middle of the season to a side bereft of confidence, stuck at the wrong end of the table and sliding out of the football league.

Did this affect him though?

Award winner at Tranmere.

A double in his second game would suggest no, and he netted 5 times in his first 8 games on route to a Player of the Month award.

But then one of those droughts.

He didn’t score again in his following 12 appearances as Rovers drifted into the Conference.

So what attracted Justin Edinburgh to him?

I cannot answer for sure, but he and his scouts would surely have done their due diligence in advance?

His first goal for us took a while longer to arrive – in his eleventh game to be precise – but it was well worth the wait.

A sublime run and chip at home to Fleetwood got him off the mark, and he also notched a real poacher’s goal in a resounding 5-1 win.

Two more followed the week after versus Oldham, and he then netted in away wins at Chesterfield and Crewe – a sublime last minute curler – to make it 6 in 4 matches.

THAT goal versus Fleetwood.

Lift off!?!

Not quite, because after this he endured a barren spell that stretched 11 games as 2015 flicked over into 2016.

The ability and desire is clearly there – his goals versus Fleetwood and Crewe are testament to that – but why is he either very hot or very cold?

Where is the consistency?

After this second long goalless spell he then scored a beauty at home to Bradford in January, drifting in from the left and bending in off the far post.

Ten is his debut campaign, but Rory will surely look to build on that in 2016-17.

Like the proverbial London bus, you wait for one and then two arrive, and then three as he scored in his next two games at Wigan and Doncaster to reach double figures.

But that was it for the season.

As the Gills’ form tailed off, so did Donnelly’s, and he was goalless in his final 14 games.

Now by no means am I saying that he had a poor season, because as our top scoring striker he certainly played his part.

But I’ll go back to my earlier point about his high octane, energetic approach.

Is the way he plays having an effect on him, meaning that he almost burns himself out for periods of the campaign, hence the goals arriving in fits and starts?

He clearly has all the tools to succeed at this level at least – and if his goals were more evenly spread out this blog may not have been written – but could a slight change in approach lead to more consistent performances over the whole season, which would surely in turn lead to more goals?

I guess during 2016-17 we will all find out.

Go and smash it up Rory!!



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