Hearts have recruited Burnley centre-back until January. Joel Sked gives the lowdown on the new signing.
St Kevin’s Boys Club from Dublin is unlikely to mean little to anyone in Scotland, or anyone outside Ireland for that matter. However, the club are revered and respected within Ireland. It has been the breeding ground for a raft of Premier League and international footballers, from Damien Duff and Ian Harte to Jeff Hendrick and Robbie Brady. And, of course, Jimmy Dunne.
Hendrick and Brady are team-mates of Dunne at Burnley and it is in their footsteps the defender will be looking to follow in with the academy renowned for producing accomplished technical footballers
In 2016 Irish football writer Dion Fanning wrote: “St Kevin’s might be amateurs, but nobody is doing a better job of developing the next generation of Irish footballers.”
Dunne joined Manchester United aged 10, starting at the club’s Belfast Academy, and spent eight years with the English giants before making the decision to switch to Burnley.
Dunne got his first taste of first-team competitive football last season, gaining valuable experience in two loans spells.
He played 21 times for Barrow in the National League, England’s fifth tier, in the first half of the 2017/2018 campaign. It would have likely been 28 appearances but he picked up two red cards missing a total of seven games.
The 20-year-old was given first-hand experience of the volatile nature of football, playing under three different managers during that spell with the third of those, Ady Pennock, keen for the player to return for the second half of the season.
Burnley opted to move him up a division to Accrington Stanley. Dunne moved from a side used to defending to one pushing to be League 2 champions.
He featured 20 times, starting 18 games, as Stanley won the league. Of those appearances he was only on the losing side twice, helping his team keep no fewer than 11 clean sheets.
He said: “I feel like I have developed so much, become more of a man. There are loads of things I need to work on but I have got a feeling of what it’s like to be a real footballer and a man and the responsibilities which come with it.
“When you find a club which you fit in with so well, you are winning games and all the lads are great and the staff are great, you love everybody, it’s an amazing feeling.”
Dunne’s form with Accrington saw him gain international recognition, making his debut for Ireland U21s in March.
Impressed in pre-season
Dunne went into pre-season as fourth choice centre-back, behind Ben Mee, James Tarkowski and Kevin Long. The defender saw the club’s pre-season trip to Ireland as the perfect learning experience.
“I’ve had the opportunity to ask loads of questions and find out what they get up to during training,” he said.
“A week like that with that standard of player is so valuable for a 20-year-old. If you want to get to that level you have to be around those types of players.
“It’s really difficult, because they’re top, top performers who are playing in the Premier League every week, but if I want to get there then that’s the type of people I need to be around.”
Dunne did himself no harm, even netting the only goal in a win over Cork City.
• READ MORE: Hearts sign Burnley defender Jimmy Dunne on loan
• READ MORE: Liam Smith opens up on leaving Hearts for Ayr
Future at Burnley
Burnley manager Sean Dyche was delighted with his input and application during pre-season.
Prior to arriving back he was tipped off by Burnley coach Michael Duff to be in the best shape possible when he returned giving him the best chance to make his mark.
Before making the move to Hearts he signed an contract extension until June 2020.
He said: “The new contract gives me not only security, but a chance to be part of a club that is really progressing and has been on the up for the past few seasons,” said Dunne.
“For me to remain part of that is a massive thing for me and my development.”
“He’s an old fashioned centre-half and he will make a fortune in the game if he carries on the way he is, because it’s all tippy-tappy Charlies around centre-halves at the moment,” said Pennock.
Burnley Express reporter Chris Boden says the player is a “typically strong centre back, good in the air, and seems to have that professionalism about him.”
It suggests that he is an ideal short-term replacement for Christophe Berra.
Dunne has experienced the rough and tumble of English League Two which will give him a decent grounding for what he will encounter in Scotland.
Looking at the advanced stats Berra is more dominant in the air. Both players contested a similar amount of aerial duels per 90 minutes in the league last season but the Hearts captain’s 71.33 per cent success rate trumped Dunne’s 61.21 per cent
In terms of defensive duels, Dunne was involved in 8.43 per 90 minutes, winning 32.94 per cent, compared to Berra’s 7.18 per 90 minutes and 30 per cent success rate. However, the Scottish international made more interceptions per 90 minutes than the Irishman’s 6.05.
Berra is not renowned for his use of the ball but put up much more impressive passing stats.
What the Burnley fans think:
Shore claret: “Impressive two games in the friendlies, a season up in Scotland could save us buying a new cb in the future.”
ClaretTony: “Will be a good move for him to get some first team football there.”
Pearcey: “He’ll have a great role model to follow in Kyle Lafferty.”
boatshed bill: “Great idea, if they are going to play him. Rubbish idea if he’s going as cover.”
Murger: “Hearts would be a great move him. Be good for him to be tested at League 1 level.”
@micrumney1: “I thought he’d have a chance for 1st team action for Burnley this season. He looked impressive when I saw him play for Accrington last season.”
@sgfurlong: “Ireland Senior Squad this season Jimmy.”
@DannyWol11: “I thought Jimmy was tremendous in the pre-season games I saw this summer. Big chance at Hearts now!”
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