Football/Soccer

McEleney relishing return to the Brandywell

Shane McEleney (left) impressed with Finn Harps last season and has now returned to the Brandywell to play alongside brother Patrick for Derry City Picture: Margaret McLaughlin
Paul McConville

IT'S a family affair at Derry City next season, with Shane McEleney linking up with his younger brother Patrick at the Brandywell.

The 30-year-old, who has signed a one-year deal with the option of a second, gets the chance to play alongside his brother for the first time in over six years.

For the ex-Larne defender, who played over 25 games for Finn Harps last season, getting the chance to play alongside his younger brother was an added personal incentive for him.

"Getting the chance to play with Patrick again was an extra personal incentive for me, I just thought it would be nice to go back and play with Patrick again," he insisted.

“We all know that all being well he stays fit this year and I'm pretty sure he will because he has conducted himself superbly getting back from his injury.

"He has trained really hard, so it will be a really nice feeling to step out onto the pitch alongside him again."

The former St Patrick's Athletic man knows it going to be tough to get a place in Ruaidhri Higgins's startling 11 but he's confident he can force his way into the manager's plans.

“Personally I had a consistent season last year and it has led to this opportunity to come back here and hopefully I can give a good account of myself," he added.

“It's going to be tough to get into the side, but I'm here to back myself and I have confidence in my own ability. I'll be looking to have a really good pre-season and get the fittest I have been in a long time and hopefully it will stand for me when the season starts.

“Thinking about it over the weekend it's a nice feeling as it's great to be back where it all started."

Higgins believes after having a good ‘open and honest' conversion with McEleney, he was delighted to bring the experienced centre-half back to the club.

"I'm delighted to welcome Shane to the club," admitted Higgins, who played alongside his new signing during their time with Derry over a decade ago.

"I think he had a very, very impressive season with Finn Harps. He's at an age where he brings vast experience.

"He's 30 years of age. We have two young centre backs at 22 or 23 years of age so we need that experience.

“We had a very open and honest conversation so he knows what's going to be demanded of him.

“I played with Shane and last year was probably the best I've seen him from a defensive aspect where his positioning is now better.

“He's braver and that's not an insult but he puts his head on the block where when I played with him he was quick and brilliant on the ball so I think he's added a new dimension.

"He's a more mature player than he ever was. He's got good recovery pace and is outstanding on the ball but he's become a better defender. His experience will be invaluable to the group.”

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Football/Soccer