SHANE McEleney has lashed out at former Derry City, boss Roddy Collins, claiming the Dubliner was ‘ruining his career’ during his short tenure at the Brandywell club.
The 23-years-old centre-half was frozen out and became totally disillusioned during the seven month reign of the recently sacked Dubliner, the player making just one start in the opening 13 games of the season.
McEleney had previously been a mainstay in the heart of the Derry defence under the stewardship of ex-Derry City bosses, Stephen Kenny and then Declan Devine over the past four years, making a total of 146 appearances since signing for his hometown club back in 2008.
And after signing a new two year contract in August last year, the 2014 season had promised big things for the 6 ft 4 ins N. Ireland Under-21 international.
However, after initially appearing to be very much a major part of Collins’ plans, cracks in what had been a frosty relationship with the Dubliner began to appear.
McEleney actually started in midfield in the opening game against Shamrock Rovers in Tallaght but he made just two appearances from the bench in games against Cork and Bray during City’s subsequent 12 fixtures!
His first half substitute appearance in Bray on April 18th, at the expense of his brother Patrick after 32 minutes, was the last time Shane was involved in the squad.
Therefore, the Earhart Park man was delighted to see the back of Collins last Sunday night - a parting of the ways he felt was inevitable after a poor start to the campaign.
“I was making regular appearances for the club this last four years,” said McEleney. “Every manager has his own opinions, theories and messages but I just wasn’t part of his plan. It obviously didn’t work out for him and, if I’m to be honest, I’m glad to see him leave.
“I’m 23 now and I need to be playing regularly. I wasn’t playing regularly and he was ruining my career! I wasn’t playing at all. He wasn’t even putting me in the squad and I wasn’t even travelling with the team.
“I didn’t do anything against him, he just singled me out for no reason. So I’m glad ‘Pizza’ (Hutton) and Marty (McCann) got the job.
“We just weren’t playing up to the standard of what we are capable of and I was just sitting in the stand and tearing my hair out. But in another way I was thinking, ‘it won’t be long before he goes’.
“It just couldn’t have lasted much longer because it was never going to work out for him.”
Both Shane and Rory Patterson were banished to play with Derry City reserves against Drumkeen United in the Ulster Senior League last month amid rumours of growing dressing room unrest.
And for a man who has helped the club win a First Division title and both the League and FAI Cups , it was bitter blow as he began to fear for his future at the Brandywell.
“As a centre-half I’ve won the First Division title, I’ve won the League Cup the FAI Cup and lost out in the Setanta Cup Final,” he noted.
“So I’ve won things. It’s not a case of me being inexperienced or as if I was just a young lad coming into the team which is what he thought.
“I told him that I’d won things as a centre-half and it’s no coincidence. He tried me out as a midfielder and I haven’t played midfield since I was 16 or 17, so it was hard on me to adapt. I felt out of my comfort zone.
“I’m really glad Peter and Marty got the job because all the younger Derry City players will do their best we can for the club and for the city.”
He was particularly delighted to see club legend, Hutton, replace Collins as McEleney actually played his first games alongside the former centre-half and he was confident he would continue his football education under his new boss.
“Peter has vast experience and he was a fantastic player. I was lucky enough to play alongside him. In my first two or three games under Stephen Kenny, as a centre-half, I was playing beside ‘Pizza’ so I have loads of respect for him and I really do look up to him.
“And he’s a good man off the pitch too. He’s easy to talk to and you can tell him anything. I have loads of trust in him, as do the majority of the squad. So I’m looking forward to it now and, hopefully, we can go down to Cork and get a good result.”
However, tonight’s game in Turner’s Cross may well come too soon for McEleney who hasn’t kicked a ball since that game in the Carlisle Grounds over a month ago.
“There must be 60 odd points to play for at the minute, so there’s plenty of points up for grabs.
“I haven’t kicked a ball in almost five weeks now so it’s up to myself to get match fit first and, hopefully, I’ll get selected.
“It will evenbe nice to be involved because under Roddy Collins, I was never even getting a look in,” he concluded.