Ex-Sunderland youngster completes Scotland switch and divulges what Alex Neil told him prior to release

Ex-Sunderland youngster Cieran Dunne has spoken about conversations with head coach Alex Neil before his release.

The left-back joined Sunderland in 2019 but was released from his contract at the Wearside club this summer after his contract expired.

Dunne made his Sunderland debut in a Papa John’s Trophy tie against Fleetwood Town in 2020, replacing Ollie Younger just before half-time. However, his appearance was cut short after suffering a dislocated shoulder which saw him replaced in the 51st minute by Vinnie Steels.

Dunne, who originally came up through the youth ranks at Scottish club Falkirk, had recently been with Doncaster Rovers on trial, however, the League Two outfit didn’t offer the player a deal and he has now signed for Cove Rangers.

SUNDERLAND, ENGLAND - JULY 31: Sunderland manager Alex Neil reacts on the touchline during the Sky Bet Championship between Sunderland and Coventry City at Stadium of Light on July 31, 2022 in Sunderland, England. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

Dunne was at Wembley Stadium in May for Sunderland’s play-off final success against Wycombe Wanderers and says that Black Cats boss Neil gave him the motivation to kick on in his career elsewhere.

“We had a great discussion,” said Dunne to The Press and Journal. “We had a meeting in May after we went up and he said: ‘go make a career for yourself’.

“I’d had interest from other places. I was in at Doncaster for three weeks and it didn’t work, then I had interest from up the road as well.

“The best place for me to go and get games under my belt was at Cove, under a top manager. It’s a really good fit for me and my dad’s buzzing I’ve come back up the road as well, as he gets to come see me every week.

“Wembley was a brilliant experience. What a way to finish – that day will live with me forever.

“I’ve had experiences and played with players I could only dream of. Aiden McGeady gave me advice over the last season, just little things.

“I had to go and move away at 18, just to mature and get out in the big world. I didn’t have the security of home and, while it made me a better player going down the road, it made me a better person.

“It’s time to come home and get games under my belt and as Alex Neil said, kick-start my career.”