SHANE McEleney faces Derry City this Friday night for the first time since his shock exit two days before the July Transfer Window closed last year, insisting he has no regrets about leaving his hometown club.
The 25 year-old Shantallow man is delighted to see the Brandywell outfit doing well this season but insists his loyalty to the club goes out the window when the ‘Candy Stripes’ visit Richmond Park this weekend.
I’ve no ill feelings towards the club, it’s my hometown club and what happened between myself and Derry was just one of those things that happens. I always like to see them do well, except for Friday night.Shane McEleney
McEleney will be joined by Derry’s top goalscorer from last season, winger Mark Timlin, who has emerged as an key player for Liam Buckley’s troops, which is certain to add extra spice to the contest.
With both teams coming into the game off the back of defeats in the league, McEleney expects an ‘interesting’ clash, but he feels despite recent setbacks, both teams will be ‘there or thereabouts’ when the silverware is handed out at the end of the season.
“You can see Derry have a bit of momentum and a bit of camaraderie,” said McEleney. “I still keep in touch with some of them and the players seem to be getting on well.
“Any club that has a squad of players doing that and that are prepared to work hard then they’re always going to be there or thereabouts at the end of the season.
“Hopefully they can continue to do well as they’re my hometown club - except for Friday night of course!” he smiled.
“It’ll be weird playing against the boys for the first time but it’ll be interesting,” he continued.
“It’s a league match so it’ll be competitive. Derry has had a good start to the year while we haven’t really kicked off yet. We’ve had a few good games and then a few bad results but we’ll come good,” he insisted.
“When I was playing for Derry and we came down to play St Pat’s at Richmond we always got a tough game.
“We have technical players and so have Derry, so it should be a good game of football.”
Was he surprised at how well City started the campaign despite losing so many top players in the close season, including his brother Patrick to Dundalk?
“With all the changes at the club it could have went either way for Derry this year but fair play to them, the boys are playing well and seem to be resolute in defence,” he said.
No Hard Feelings
“I’ve no ill feelings towards the club, it’s my hometown club and what happened between myself and Derry was just one of those things that happens.
“But I always speak to the boys and I always like to see them do well, except for Friday night,” he laughed.
“It’s just another game for me. I go out every game and try do my best and if I play against Derry I’ll be doing the same thing.
“It’s not like I’m going out to prove a point to show them what they’re missing, I’m at St Pat’s now and I’m happy and content. It’s just one of those things.”
The defender has settled quickly at Inchicore and is sharing a home in Lucan, south Dublin with his former City teammate, Timlin and Castlebar native, David Cawley.
He’s played in all but one game so far for the Saints this campaign after a four months bedding in period last year, so he feels very much an established player in Buckley’s side.
That’s in stark contrast to the start of last season when he started just once in the opening 13 games under Roddy Collins at Derry before fighting his way back into contention when Peter Hutton took the reins.
And he’s looking forward to playing his first full season at his new club.
“I’ve settled in grand,” said McEleney. “I had three or four months last year to get my head in the door.
“It’s a good club and the players are all well looked after.
“I’ve had a good run in the team this year. I’ve only missed the one game so it’s been good.”
McEleney feels it’s only a matter of time before St Pat’s new-look team begin to click and he’s hoping it’s as early as Friday night.
“Hopefully we can kick on with a win on Friday night. We know we’re capable of. We have nine new players and you have to let it click, and when it does I’m sure we’ll go on a good run of games.”