For the first time in a number of weeks, Derry City looked like a side that had rediscovered their ‘mojo’ in Friday’s impressive victory over Shamrock Rovers.
A high tempo start was capped off by Aaron McEneff’s wonder strike to give them the lead and it set the tone. And while Rovers may have been getting on top in the final quarter, City’s togetherness and desire meant they ran out deserved winners.
Rovers, despite the saturated conditions, were very physical with a number of late challenges on Aaron Barry and Dean Jarvis in particular,
Despite Graham Burke’s stunning equaliser, Kenny Shiels’ side regrouped and raced back in front just prior to half-time with McEneff sealing the points with a 90th minute penalty.
Shiels made a few tactical changes to his starting line-up with Harry Monaghan dropping into right-back and young Conor McDermott, who moved into centre-back alongside Barry, was superb throughout.
Another change from the side which drew at Limerick a few weeks ago was winger Lukas Schubert returning for Joshua Daniels and the Austrian played his part in the first two goals.
It’s actually for my uncle who passed away, it’s his birthday today, so it was nice to get two goals for my family and he’ll obviously be looking down on all of us.Aaron McEneff
Midfielder McEneff dedicated his two goals against Rovers to his uncle John ‘Jap’ Sweeney, who died a few weeks ago.
The 21-year-old admitted it was nice for him to score a brace on the same day as his late uncle’s birthday.
“It’s actually for my uncle who passed away, it’s his birthday today,” explained McEneff, “It was nice to get two goals for my family and he’ll obviously be looking down on all of us.”
“My first goal was a great strike and thankfully it hit the underside of the bar this time and it went in.”
McEneff said he felt confident when stepping up for the last minute which sealed the three points.
“If I score the game’s dead, but if I miss the referee’s probably playing a few extra minutes,” he said.
“I’m always confident stepping up to take a penalty. It’s my job, I’m the penalty taker in the team so I just put it into the back of the net.
“It’s a huge three points because Shamrock Rovers are obviously a massive club. People say they are the biggest club in Ireland, so to get anything off them is a result, but to take three points is massive for us moving forward. We have had a lot of draws recently so it’s a great result.”
The 21-year-old felt the Candystripes’ start to the game against Rovers was a return to their early season form.
“That’s the way we started the season this year. We came out in every game with a bit of purpose and playing attacking football,” he added.
“Against Rovers we started well and scored, but the boy Burke scored a screamer for them and I have to give him credit for that, but other than that I felt defensive we were good tonight as well.”