Derry City's Shane McEleney impresses since returning home

Assistant manager Alan Reynolds claims centre-back Shane McEleney has been arguably Derry City’s ‘Player of the Season’ so far in 2022.

By Kevin McLaughlin
Thursday, 5th May 2022, 6:23 pm
Derry City assistant boss Alan Reynolds talks to manager Ruaidhrí Higgins last week before their win over St Patrick’s Athletic. Picture by Kevin Moore/MCI

Reynolds admits he didn’t fully appreciate the Shantallow man’s all round ability before seeing him up close and personal on a regular basis and he’s been impressed from day one.

“Shane McEleney has been outstanding. You would be nearly bordering on saying he’s been our best player. He goes under the radar and just does his job,” insisted Reynolds.

“It was an interesting one when I spoke to Ruaidhrí about him signing at the start of the year. I’m not saying I doubted him, but I didn’t realise he’s as good as he is. He has been excellent.

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“He has been good for the younger lads too because it took him time to get into the team but since he has got in he’s stayed in. With the younger players he encourages them, gives out good information and is a real leader. He’s been absolutely outstanding beside Eoin (Toal). The two of them have been great.”

The City number two is expecting a tough test against Bohemians tomorrow night, despite the Dubliners’ somewhat indifferent form this campaign.

Keith Long’s side have improved in recent weeks but they’ve already suffered three defeats this season with James Akintunde’s late winner securing the points for the Brandywell men when the sides last met in April at Dalymount.

Reynolds wants the players to remain focused and carry on from last week’s superb victory at St Patrick’s Athletic.

“Bohs have been good on the road which is a good thing for them,” he added, “They had a good win at UCD last week. They’ve a lot of good players and we’ll respect them.

“We’ll speak about the way they play and I’m sure they’ll do the same but it will be all about us on Friday night. We have to have that confidence to go and express ourselves.

“You know the way football is, it has a habit of kicking you in the backside. There are the highs and lows so we aren’t taking anything for granted. The players have prepared well and are really itching to get going. Brandon (Kavanagh) has been excellent and I know he hasn’t chipped in with a goal but he’s been brilliant.

“The manager challenged the squad a couple of weeks ago about needing more goals, needing more people scoring and we have definitely improved that end of it and long may it continue.

“But we have a really good squad and I suppose there’s no coincidence that Patrick McEleney is back playing and that has added a lot to us. Look, it’s all good but we aren’t getting carried away because you know how football works.”

The Candy Stripes have two games in the space of four days this week as they host St Pat’s on Monday evening, but Reynolds says no one is looking at that match just yet.

“You can’t look too far ahead because sometimes you can get caught looking too far ahead, planning for this player in or this player out,” he explained. “We just deal with things on a game by game basis and all eyes are on Bohemians on Friday night. We’ll deal with whatever is after that.”

Derry go into tomorrow evening’s game with the same squad that has scored 11 goals in their last two matches.

“It’s all the same as it has been over the last few games. We have a few bumps and bruises but I think when confidence is high and you’re winning games, everyone is okay, so bar the couple of lads - Mickey (Duffy) and Ciaron (Harkin) - the rest are fine,” concluded Reynolds.