PATRICK McEleney claims the chance to work under his former boss, Stephen Kenny and the lure of playing Champions League football were the reasons behind his decision to join Dundalk.
McEleney turned down offers from St Patrick’s Athletic and Derry City in favour of signing a two-year deal with the league champions on Tuesday evening.
And his decision was motivated by the chance to work again with Dubliner, Kenny who gave the player his first team debut as a 17 year-old at Derry City in 2010.
The 23 year-old Shantallow man believes Kenny is the right man to help him reach his potential and while he admits it was a difficult decision to leave his hometown club this week, he’s excited about challenging for silverware at Oriel Park.
“I’m delighted,” said McEleney. “It’s been a long process involving a lot of phone-calls but I was always coming here (Dundalk), it just came down to getting it over the last couple of hurdles.
“It was tough to leave Derry but I wanted to win titles and that’s why I’ve come here. Dundalk are league champions, FAI Cup holders and I hated playing against them.
“I knew Stephen (Kenny) well and he got the best out of me before. He gave me my chance then played me every week until I left and I’ve loads of respect for him.
“Stephen gave me my debut when I was 17 years-old and he really believed in me. He always has.
“I have a really good relationship with him. I’m looking forward to getting on the pitch now because he seems to get the best out of me.”
McEleney, who received a rousing reception at a packed Tain Theatre in Dundalk on Tuesday night at the launch of the club’s new kit, felt he wasn’t being challenged at Derry City and was excited about the prospect of playing in the Champions League next season.
It was tough to leave Derry but I wanted to win titles and that’s why I’ve come here. They’re league champions, FAI Cup holders and I hated playing against them.Patrick McEleney
“I came here to win titles and I felt, with Derry, I was just getting by,” added McEleney. “I felt I had more to offer and obviously Stephen did too and a few other clubs as well.
“So I’m happy to come to Dundalk and get the deal done. Champions League is the big one. Last year they came close against BATE Borisov, I watched both games and they were the better side out there.
“I’ve played in Europe, I know what it takes. I’ve played in front of big crowds away from home and I know how to handle it.”