JIMMY DUNNE picked up the phone and called Stephen Kenny when he needed extra training as a teenager.
Now he is hoping the Irish boss will be the one to call him.
Defender Dunne – from Dundalk, where Kenny led and still lives – has joined QPR this season from Burnley and he is eager to embark on a career that has given him plenty of loan experience.
Signed by the Clarets in 2016, he scored on his Premier League debut against Leicester City last season and made a total of three league starts.
But he was frustrated that his five loan spells in five seasons hadn’t led to more opportunities.
And that led to his summer move to London.
Dunne told SunSport: âI’m 24 next month. I’ve had enough of the whole loan. Before that at Burnley I was at a different club every six months.
âI think it was good at the start but it was not very beneficial because I was not the real player of the loan club.
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âI needed to go to someone who really wanted me, who wanted to develop me, coach me, play me. I have to start and try to have a career.
âIf I can do something here and get 40 games a season, that would be so beneficial. “
With the loans being a short-term deal, Dunne always looked ahead and admitted that he lacked any games under his belt.
He explained, âI liked it. But there is an element of selfishness to it. I wanted to go places, and I wanted the team to do well and everything, but you really leave a really selfish aspect.
“You are only going to develop yourself, your club sends you out there so that you can develop and come back better. The club welcomes you so that you benefit from it.
âIt’s not right somewhere where we’re all in the same boat – I want to be here for the team, the team wants me here.
âNow I don’t have to worry about January or next summer, I can just focus and settle in and try to help the team.
“I think it’s a much better environment for me at this point.”
Dunne is also hoping it can help him get a summons to Ireland.
He said: âIt’s a dream of mine to play for Ireland. Lack of playing regularly hasn’t helped me so far.
âI hope this is something I can think of and aspire to in the next few months and years or as long as it takes.
“It’s something I’ve always wanted, but I know it’s what I’m doing here that will mean this opportunity presents itself.”
One thing he knows for sure is that he’s being watched as he and the Ireland boss have a history.
From the Blackrock area to Dundalk, Dunne’s family is close to Kenny and the manager contacted him five years ago when he needed further training.
Dunne explained, âI was home for the summer. I was about to leave Manchester United for Burnley and knew Burnley was planning to send me on loan.
âI came home very impatient, I knew next season I would be playing men’s football, so I reached out to Stephen to ask if I could practice with the guys at Dundalk.
âI didn’t know him at all, I got his number somehow and he was really nice to me letting me participate in a few sessions.
âI hadn’t really trained a lot with the men before that and it was really good. It was the time when Dundalk was really flying and the training was really good, really intense.
âThey had Graham Byrne as a physical trainer at the time and I still train with him every summer now. I’ve been doing this for five years and I’ve learned a lot.
âBut Stephen has been good to me. He encouraged me, told me what to work on and helped me with my fitness.
Dunne obviously impressed Kenny because, when he was named manager of Ireland Under-21 in November 2018, he moaned that the defender would be too old.
The ace only made two Under-21 appearances under Noel King in the previous campaign and Northern Ireland reviewed his eligibility.
But former Irish gaffer Martin O’Neill recruited him to his senior squad because at the time he was making good progress with Hearts in Scotland.
Now he hopes to realize his ambitions at QPR after making his debut in the first team last week.
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A winning penalty kick in the Carabao Cup shootout against Everton was followed by a strong first league start in the loss to West Brom on Friday night.
Tonight R’s host Birmingham City is aiming for points to get closer to the tie-offs.
Dunne added: âAt the start I had a few opportunities in the games, but the team hadn’t really changed much and I was waiting for my opportunity in the cup games.
âBut now I have to start and try to play together. I think that’s what I missed: the chance to play regularly, to have consistent performances.
âSigning for QPR was an easy decision. It was definitely time for me at Burnley. I had my two games and it was great but I needed to go somewhere to play.
âMaybe it would have been different if a club like this hadn’t been interested, but I came to a club that wants to be in the Premier League.
âI didn’t come here to play in the championship forever. The club is ambitious and I am ambitious.