When Brisbane Roar’s James Donachie walked up on stage to accept the club’s National Youth League Player of the Year gong at last season’s presentation dinner, the then-17-year-old was under no illusions it would be easy to make the step up to the Hyundai A-League.
When Brisbane Roar-s James Donachie walked up on stage to accept the club-s National Youth League Player of the Year gong at last season-s presentation dinner, the then-17-year-old was under no illusions it would be easy to make the step up to the Hyundai A-League.
And yesterday, just over twelve months later, the young central defender did exactly that - proving his worth at the elite level of Australian football by putting in a solid 90-minute shift against Gold Coast United on his Hyundai A-League debut.
Head Coach Ange Postecoglou opting to rest five regular starters in the final fixture of the home and away season, including centre-back Matt Smith with the captain-s usual partner Mohamed Adnan missing in action with a knee strain.
That left the inexperienced Donachie to team up with Matt Jurman in the heart of defence with the duo showing composure beyond their combined 40 years in the 2-1 victory.
Donachie, who has been patiently waiting all season whilst training regularly alongside the current Hyundai A-League champions, was not about to let the opportunity slip from his hands.
“I-ve always wanted to play A-League from the start of the season but it was the gaffer-s choice anyway,” he said.
“I just tried to perform well and consistently in the youth league as much as I could to open the door for myself in case there was an opportunity.
“I loved it actually.
“The boys were helping me before we went out and once I got out there and got my first few touches out of the way, I was loving it.”
The Brisbane local was not the only youngster who impressed on the Skilled Park surface.
Shotstopper Andrew Redmayne was commanding between the sticks in his first start for the club while Nick Fiztgerald and George Lambadaridis both found the back of the net in their tenth and second competition appearances respectively - the latter-s scorcher in the 90th minute sealing the points in the M1 derby.
“It was great to see Georgey and Fitz both on the scoresheet,” Donachie said.
“They were both impressive goals, they both really stepped up yesterday and that was good to see.”
Roar skipper Smith, who watched the match on the sidelines, was full of praise for the host of young players in Brisbane jerseys last night.
“I thought James Donachie at the back was fantastic on his A-League debut and great impact from Fitzy and George to come off the bench and get their goals,” he said.
“We-ve got some great young kids coming through here.
“The gaffer always told them they-ll get a chance and they-ve believed in themselves.
“They got their chance last night and they certainly took it.”