Willington Quay, Northumberland born inside forward Dennis O’Donnell joined Willington Athletic in 1900 before signing for Second Division Lincoln City in September 1901, for whom he made his Football League debut against Middlesbrough the following month, scoring both goals in a 2-1 home victory. He soon established himself as a regular in The Imps’ first team, top scoring in 1904-05 with 15 goals, a performance that saw him sold to First Division Sunderland after 37 goals in 133 appearances for the Sincil Bank club.
He had a single season on Wearside scoring 5 times in 22 appearances for Sunderland before joining Southern League Queen’s Park Rangers in the 1906 close season. But he returned to Football League action in June 1907 when he joined First Division Notts County, scoring 4 goals in 19 appearances during 1907-08 before again moving, this time to Second Division Bradford Park Avenue in June 1908 for their inaugural Football League season. He played in their first League match in a win over Hull City and scored 4 goals in 13 appearances before moving back to north east non league football with North Shields Athletic in 1909.
His younger brother was Magnus O’Donnell, who played for Lincoln City (in the same team), and Barnsley.