DERRY CITY: Aaron McEneff delighted to keep alive FAI Cup hopes

Niall Cooney of Drogheda United remonstrates with referee Paul Tuite after he awarded a second penalty to Derry City in the Irish Daily Mail FAI Cup Second Round match between Derry City v Drogheda United at the Brandywell, Derry. Photo by Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile

Niall Cooney of Drogheda United remonstrates with referee Paul Tuite after he awarded a second penalty to Derry City in the Irish Daily Mail FAI Cup Second Round match between Derry City v Drogheda United at the Brandywell, Derry. Photo by Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile

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AARON McEneff says he ‘felt confident’ he could help rescue Derry City’s FAI Cup hopes at Brandywell as he took ownership of the ball and slotted past Drogheda United goalkeeper, Stephen McGuinness from the penalty spot in the second half of Friday night’s FAI Cup second round clash.

The Cornshell Fields lad epitomised the workrate and desire shown by the ‘Candy Stripes’ as they desperately chased a shock 1-0 deficit against First Division outfit Drogheda United and he was narrowly pipped him to the ‘man of the match’ accolade by the man between the sticks for Pete Mahon’s side.

As a young boy I remember going down to watch finals in Lansdowne Road and the Aviva as well. That’s where you want to play, in those type of matches. So we go down to Drogheda on Tuesday and hopefully get the result to progress to the next round.

Aaron McEneff

The midfielder twice cannoned thunderous long distance strikes off the frame of the Drogheda goal in the second half as Derry began to bombard the visitors’ goalmouth.

McEneff had earlier sent Josh Daniels through on goal with a neat throughball but the Galliagh lad’s shot was saved by the feet of McGuinness. He was also involved in a clever one-two with Rory Patterson in the build-up to Conor McCormack’s first half chance when the Co. Louth man’s scuffed shot was clawed behind by the in-form Drogs’ keeper.

And it was McEneff’s pass which sent new signing Lukas Schubert racing into the box only for McGuinness to seemingly bring him to the ground for that contentious winning penalty the former Spurs player put away with confidence on 73 minutes.

McEneff insists the FAI Cup is high on his list of priorities this season having watched some of five times champions, Derry’s triumphs in recent years from the stands.

So he was delighted his goal kept Kenny Shiels’ troops in the competition as they look ahead to Tuesday night’s second round replay at United Park.

“As a young boy I remember going down to watch finals in Lansdowne Road and the Aviva as well,” said McEneff. “That’s where you want to play, in those type of matches. So we go down to Drogheda on Tuesday and hopefully get the result to progress to the next round.”

“When I took the penalty it was just me and the keeper and I put it in the back of the net,” he explained. “All the lads are disappointed we didn’t come away with the win but we’re still in the cup. We have to try take the positives from it and not beat ourselves up over it. Tuesday night comes quick and we have to recover and get a result down there. It’s a big competition and we want to go as far as we can.

“In the first half we could have been 2-0 up after 20 minutes and they go up and score from the one chance they had. That was a blow and hard to take. But we came in at half-time and said we would be patient and we got our chances but just failed to convert them.

“There was a lot of collective mistakes and we need to eradicate them. In saying that I still think we played some good football at times and did create a lot of chances.

We’re playing the right way and maybe we can step up the tempo even more and we’ll have to on Tuesday night.

“You have to give teams like Drogheda credit. They’ve come and sat deep and gone away with a 1-1 draw. I hit the crossbar twice and if one of the one-on-ones or the first penalty goes in you end up beating Drogheda 5-1 or 6-1.

“Then Lukas (Schubert) came on and he’s a bright player. I seen him making a run inside and played it to him. I had a bit of momentum at that stage and felt confident so when we got the second penalty I ran towards the ball and took it and put it away,” he smiled.