Duffy, McEleney hope to emulate Gibson

Talented teenagers, Shane Duffy (17) and Patrick McEleney (16) were granted a Civic Reception by the Mayor of Derry, Colr. Gerard Diver in the Guildhall on Saturday to acknowledge their rise to prominence with their respective clubs in the English Premiership.

Galliagh lad, Duffy, recently signed a two-and-a-half year professional contract with Everton while his former Foyle Harps teammate, McEleney from Amelia Court, also earned a similar contract in the North-East of England with Sunderland.

Both teenagers have since hit the ground running, quickly graduating through the Youth Academy to gain appearances in the Reserves and, in the case of Duffy, a rare run out with the Everton first team.

Keen to emulate the success of Gibson, both players are fully focused on attempting to cement a regular place in their club's Reserves squad and they have been heavily influenced by the success of the Hazelbank lad at both International and club level.

Shane, a towering centre half, has been promoted from the underage set-up and trains regularly with the likes of Tim Cahill and Mikeal Arteta in the 'Toffees' first team. And he has already had a taste of first team action having played and scored in John Achterberg's testimonial game for an Everton XI against Tranmere last month.

"Darron Gibson has been a big influence on me because we've seen how far he's come and we all know what he's capable of doing so, hopefully, my career will have the same sort of success that he's been enjoying lately," said Duffy.

"It's going well so far, I'll just keep pushing away and, hopefully, I'll get my chance soon."

Duffy, standing at 6 ft 4 ins. was predictably delighted with the progress he's made in the ten months he has been at the Merseyside club but he remains level headed and has kept his feet firmly on the ground.

"It's all about keeping your feet on the ground and continuing to work hard. It's a top class set-up at Everton, everything's there for you and it's all down to yourself if you want to make it or not."

The former St Joseph's Boys pupil's achievement is even more remarkable given the fact he has suffered a couple of untimely injuries, but he is eager to make an impression on first team manager, David Moyes when given the opportunity.

Significant Progress

Duffy's former teammate at Foyle Harps, Patrick McEleney, has also made significant progress since joining Sunderland on a full-time scholarship last year.

The 16 year-old striker, who has represented Republic of Ireland at under-18 level, was then offered a two-and-a-half year professional contract last September and having settled at his new surroundings, he is anxious to make an impact at the Stadium of Light.

"It's hard to get used to at the start when you move away from your family and friends, but once you get settled in it's fine," he said.

"The quality at Sunderland is fantastic and the facilities and players are top class.

"I was playing for the reserves against the first team recently when we won 2-0 and I scored both goals. Sunderland boss, Ricky Sbragia came out to watch the game and saw one of my goals and when we went back in at lunch, he congratulated me," smiled Patrick.

McEleney formed part of the Sunderland Under-18 and Reserves team which won their respective leagues this season under former legend, Kevin Ball, but he is keeping his feet placed firmly planted on the ground.

"Kevin Ball was captain for Sunderland for something like 400 appearances and he was saying to me that if I increase my workrate I'll be in a good position to make it, but I'll just keep my head down and not get carried away."