PATRICK McEleney admitted he was ‘nervous’ ahead of his return to Brandywell Stadium on Friday and wasn’t surprised when he was subjected to a chorus of boos from a section of Derry City fans.
The talented Shantallow man left his hometown club after much deliberation last December having received an offer from Stephen Kenny to join league champions, Dundalk.
If I’m honest I was nervous coming into the game. It was a bit weird. But we got the result and I got through the game.Patrick McEleney
McEleney also turned down the chance to link up with his brother Shane at St Patrick’s Athletic in favour of playing UEFA Champions League football with the Lilywhites.
He’s always maintained he left Foyleside in a bid to further his career and with Dundalk seemingly on course for a third consecutive Premier Division title as they sit nine points clear of second placed, Cork and staring into a Champions League second round tie against Iceland’s FH Hafnarfjördur next week, things are going well for the Derry man.
However, his season has been somewhat curtailed by injuries but he’s netted two goals in eight appearances and is enjoying his reunion with ex-City boss, Kenny.
“That’s why I left Derry - to try and further my career and so far it’s going in the right direction except for a few set-backs with injuries,” he said.
“I dug in a bit and got myself in shape to get back in the team and hopefully I can stay in there now. I’ve two goals and it’s not really enough but I’ve only played about seven or eight games. I’ll just try and push on and you’ll get goals in this team if you make the right runs.”
Friday night’s 5-0 victory over his former club took Dundalk 12 points clear of the Candy Stripes but McEleney has been impressed with what he’s saw so far from Kenny Shiels’ troops and claims he will remain a fan of the club.
“Derry have been excellent up until now. They got a man sent off when they were 2-0 down and I don’t think they were ever getting back into it.
“You have to give Kenny (Shiels) a lot of credit. After the break they changed their shape and bossed the ball for about five or 10 minutes. That was down to him whatever he’s done tactically. Derry can go far and I’m still a fan so I hope they continue to have a great season.”
He expected a few jeers from the home support and said it was ‘weird’ playing for the opposition team.
“I expected a few boos and people are entitled to their opinions. If I’m honest I was nervous coming into the game. It was a bit weird. But we got the result and I got through the game.”
McEleney felt the Ryan McBride’s sending off was always going to hurt Derry given Dundalk’s ability to dominate the ball.
“Derry started well and we were put on the backfoot. But we took our two goals and we were in control from then on.
As long as I can stay injury free I think I can do the business. I think I did okay tonight I didn’t do anything over the top. It was a weird game. Once they went down to 10 men it we just kept ticking over. We got the result in the end.
“Everybody’s comfortable on the ball and it’s always going to be tough for the team who goes down to 10 men.
“We moved he ball well and Derry found it hard. I have to give credit to Derry. People might not have seen it but they didn’t stop running after us.
If someone ran into the box, Rory Patterson was running back to track him and you have to give them credit for that.”