'Gutted' Brian Maher says Derry City players must carry on title fight for injured skipper Patrick McEleney

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BRIAN Maher says Derry City players felt 'absolutely gutted' watching on as Patrick McEleney was stretchered off the pitch with a suspected broken arm in the second half of Monday's victory over Waterford.

The City goalkeeper described the club captain as 'one of the best people I've met in football' who deserves success with his hometown club and called on his teammates to carry on the fight for the title until his return.

McEleney has battled back from a double Achilles operation and successive groin injuries this season and, making his first start since February 24th at the Sligo Showgrounds, was easing his way back to full fitness when disaster struck on 62 minutes.

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He's had horrendous luck with injuries and when he was barged off the ball as he attempted to play a pass in the middle of the pitch, the ex-Oldham and Sunderland man landed heavily on his left arm. Immediately he signalled to the bench and after an almost 10 minute delay was taken off the pitch on a stretcher and taken to hospital.

Derry City skipper Patrick McEleney is attended to by the club physio and doctor on the pitch after sustaining what's feared to be a broken arm. Photograph by Kevin Moore.Derry City skipper Patrick McEleney is attended to by the club physio and doctor on the pitch after sustaining what's feared to be a broken arm. Photograph by Kevin Moore.
Derry City skipper Patrick McEleney is attended to by the club physio and doctor on the pitch after sustaining what's feared to be a broken arm. Photograph by Kevin Moore.

The injury 'overshadowed' Derry's comprehensive 3-0 win over Waterford and a first half where McEleney was pulling the strings. Maher claimed it was simply 'unfair' as his immediate thoughts centred around his skipper after the match.

"We're gutted for him honestly, absolutely as a team we're gutted for him," said Maher. "He's our captain. He's been so unlucky. He's had a double Achilles operation in the off season, came back and worked hard.

"He had an unfortunate one in Sligo at the start of the year and has worked so hard to come back. To see that is just unfair. He's so good around the place. He's driving people. He's got his arm around whenever people need it. He's one of the best people I've met in football and tonight he's had absolutely no luck.

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"So we need to make sure we carry it on for when he's back because he deserves to be successful here for what he puts in. "There's a lot made about him missing games but people don't see the work that man puts in.”

The extent of the injury wasn’t clear as the player went for an X-ray at Altnagelvin Hospital but it was clear from the players’ faces on the pitch it was a nasty one. Maher hopes it’s not as bad as first feared.

"Football aside, as a person we're all absolutely gutted for him and really hoping that when he goes now and gets it looked at, whatever the best case scenario is, he can hopefully get a bit of good news on that side. Obviously at the moment it's not looking too great.

"It probably overshadowed our win tonight," added the keeper. "He's just obviously come back into the team and he's probably been the best player on the pitch. He's made such a difference for us. It's just such an unfortunate one. It's a bad landing. We don't know what it is yet but it doesn't look good."

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