A PROUD Patrick McEleney believes the birth of his first child this week can provide him with the necessary spark to reignite his so far stuttering Derry City campaign.
The 22 year-old Derry City striker was delighted when his partner, Aoibheann gave birth to their daughter, Saorláith on Wednesday, just in time for the Shantallow man to prepare for the FAI Cup quarter-final against Cork City tonight.
He admits he had been understandably distracted from his football responsibilities lately. And while he was granted leave from training this week to prepare for his new arrival, he claims he’s now ‘raring to go’ and determined to help the ‘Candy Stripes’ progress in the Cup.
“Everything went grand thank God,” said McEleney. “It was unsettling leading up to her birth. When it gets close to the time it’s all you can think about but I’m glad she arrived this week and she’s healthy.
“It’s a massive game against Cork,” he added. “So hopefully with the baby being born it gives me a bit of a kick on and I’m looking forward to the game. I couldn’t be happier at the minute.”
Hopefully with the baby being born it gives me a bit of a kick on and I’m looking forward to the game. I couldn’t be happier at the minute.Patrick McEleney
He bumped into his former Derry City teammate, Republic of Ireland midfielder James McClean at Altnagelvin Hospital yesterday where, ironically, the West Brom star was celebrating the birth of his second child, James Jnr.
Both players will be hoping to mark the birth of their newborn children with a goal this weekend for their respective club teams but don’t expect any Bebeto ‘rock the baby’ celebrations from ‘Fats’
“Maybe I’ll stick the ball up my top,” laughed McEleney. “I bumped into James at the hospital, they’ve had a wee baby boy. I was chatting to him for about 10 minutes before he had to rush on. He’s buzzing as well.”
McEleney, whose campaign has been blighted by injury, netted his first goal of the season in the previous round against Drogheda but he’s hoping he can find a vital goal against Cork tonight.
“I haven’t got enough goals this year and haven’t really performed that well,” he admitted.
“The injuries have killed me this year and broke my momentum up through the year. It’s the most I’ve ever been injured in my life! It knocked me back a bit and I have to keep digging in.
“I had a couple of days off this week which did me no harm and I’m raring to go.”
Cork arrive at Brandywell with a big reputation as they continue to chase Dundalk in the title race but McEleney insists Derry have nothing to fear.
“Cork are a good side but they’re beatable. Depending on what Derry City team turns up really. We’ve been so hit or miss at the minute but it’s a quarter-final, a massive game and anything can happen.”
Derry City fans haven’t had much to cheer about this season and McEleney insist the players owe the supporters a big performance tonight.
“The fans deserve something. It’s been a hard year and it could get harder after last week’s result.”