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15 February 2013

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Cup dreams and fifth round fairytales await the Hatters as the club prepares for the visit of Millwall to Kenilworth Road.

TV Coverage and global recognition followed off the back of that sensational Carrow Road triumph last month and one of the Cup hero's from that day, JJ O'Donnell, spoke about his FA Cup journey.

“It hasn't really sunk in for me to be honest,” O'Donnell told Hatters Player, reminiscing about the Norwich feat.

“It was a great achievement on the day, a real club achievement. There were 4,000 travelling fans and us 18 players that were all involved that day. You can celebrate but we knew on that Tuesday we had a vital game up in Grimsby so the celebrations were almost halted if you like.

“Some of the lads went out for a quiet drink on the Saturday evening but most of us stayed in. It was a great achievement that day at Carrow Road and it’s in the record books forever now and it can never be taken away from us.”

O'Donnell was introduced as the first of three changes shortly after the hour mark and later linked up with other substitutes Stuart Fleetwood and Scott Rendell for the Hatters break through. Fleetwood sprayed a pass down the line which O'Donnell flew after before cleverly holding proceedings and cutting the ball back for Rendell to turn home. And it was a move that Scotland manager Gordon Strachan was quick to praise with the maturity and intelligence of O'Donnell highlighted later that night on ITV's coverage of the fourth round.

“It was a great thing to look at on ITV that evening, it was great analysis from Gordon Strachan,” O'Donnell said with a chuckle.

“I don't remember too much about it to be honest, it was all adrenaline fuelled. Fleets played the ball down the line and I was always going to try my heart out to get to the ball. It was a great run from Rens. Me and him have a little thing that as soon as I get the ball he runs across the front, I know where he's going every time, so I just needed to put a bit of quality on the ball. It's a great finish from him and it's nice to see the coverage on ITV that evening.”

The link up play between O'Donnell and Rendell has reaped its own rewards throughout the season for the Hatters culminating in that winning goal at Carrow Road.

“Me and Scott have a little thing going that whenever I get the ball I know where he's going and he knows where the ball is going to be delivered it’s a bit of a connection between me and him.

“It happened against Nuneaton, it happened here against Southport and it happened at Norwich so maybe were on the same wavelength more. It was a great stage to do it on, in front of 27,000 at Carrow Road.”

The FA Cup is steeped in magical tails of the underdog's gruelling journey from the darkest corners of English football to the pinnacle of footballing achievement, and the Hatters’ triumph has received international coverage on top of national acclaim. 

The New York Times were one of those overseas newspapers to run a story on the tie and about O’Donnell’s role in the monumental achievement.

“It's surreal really if you look at it,” the 21-year-old quipped. “My brother tweeted me at the time to say 'have you seen this?' and I had a look. I didn't really know much about the New York Times to be fair but I looked deeper and deeper and it’s nice to receive a bit of coverage at this club.

“Over the past few years it’s all been negative and a cup run like we've had this season has really put Luton Town back on the map and it's just a nice thing to have.”

As the Town fans were glued to the screen in the unfamiliar territory of anticipating a fifth round tie, it was Millwall who were drawn from the remaining balls to secure a home tie. The Hatters were rewarded with the hosting of the Lions to Kenilworth Road and with a 12.45 kick-off prepped to suffice the watching nation live on ESPN.

And O'Donnell cannot wait for kick-off.

“We've got nothing to lose,” he said fearless about the forthcoming clash. “Come 12.45 when we cross that white line they're the favourites. Maybe some people look at us now, after beating Norwich and beating Wolves that maybe we should get a result, but there's no pressure on us.

“Come Saturday we can go out there, give it our all and hopefully get into the quarter finals.”

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