It was part of a double success for Ballymena boxing at the Ulster Elite Championships with Anthony O’Rawe, of Braid ABC landing his maiden Ulster title.
Donnelly, who had been out of the ring for two years after becoming disillusioned with the sport after a disappointing Commonwealth Games in 2010, made short work of young pretender Stephen Mulholland to win the 69kg welterweight category.
The Ballymena boxer’s superiority against the former Irish juvenile champion saw the referee stop the contest with 40 seconds remaining in the opening round.
“It was a good win for Steven and it’s great to see him back on that sort of stage,” Donelly’s All Saints coach Gerry Hamill told Times Sport.
“Rather than let the young lad settle, Steven jumped on him straight from the first bell and he caught him with a smashing body shot early on.
“When he caught him with a great blow to the head later on, the referee stopped the contest,” added Gerry.
Donnelly will continue his comeback in next month’s Irish Elite championships, where he will bid to become only the second All Saints boxer after Dermot Hamill to win an Irish crown.
“If there was one drawback about the manner of Steven’s victory, it was that he’s still short on ring time after such a long time out – he had a walkover in his semi-final after his scheduled opponent drew and then he only had less than a round in the final.
“It’s a couple of weeks until the Irish finals and in that time he’ll be putting in some hard sparring both in our own club and in Belfast,” added Gerry.
* For a report on Anthony O’Rowe’s success, see page 46.