05 Oct 2022

Shane McEleney backing Derry City to hit back against UCD

'The incentive is on us'

Derry City

Shane McEleney is hoping that Derry City can get back to winning ways against UCD this evening.

Derry City vs. UCD

Tonight, 7:45pm

Shane McEleney is remaining calm despite recent results, but he has still labelled tonight’s fixture against UCD as a ‘must win’ game for Derry City.

The Candystripes have seen their six-point lead at the top of the Premier League fade to just one point after disappointing results against Shelbourne and Drogheda United, all in the space of four days over a disappointing Easter weekend.

But the lead still belongs to Derry despite Shamrock Rovers closing that gap, and McEleney believes that the current squad have come a long way in a very short time.

“The incentive is on us,” he said. “As a group of players, bar a 45-minutes against Shelbourne, I think we’ve stood up to every challenge this year. Like I said at the start of the season, this is a new group and it’s a process and to be where we are I think is a credit to the staff and us so we’ll look forward to Friday now and try and pick up three points at home.”

Despite sitting bottom of the table, UCD have taken points from the likes of Bohemians and Sligo Rovers, and gave St. Patrick’s Athletic a scare on Monday past before losing the game late on. All that, coupled with their dogged performance against Derry City just a few weeks ago, is enough for McEleney to be cautious ahead of tonight’s game.

“I think from the outside looking in, there’s no easy games in this league,” he reiterated. “Be it at home or away, you have to work and grind for every point and every three points that you’re lucky enough to get. We’ll not take UCD for granted by any means. I know they’ll come to the Brandywell and make it difficult for us, but it’s up to us to put on a performance and make it a crowd-pleasing one.”

City’s response to their first defeat of the season was a positive one as they dominated Drogheda on Monday night, but the winning goal eluded them.   

“It wasn’t our night, but we can take confidence from it,” McEleney reflected. “I think it was an actual good overall performance from us. We gave away a scrappy goal but sometimes when you come away to these places, I think the team that defends their box the best will go on and win the game. They carried a bit of luck, there’s no two ways about that, but you have to come away to places like this and get the three points. We were unfortunate to do so.”

Drogheda players and fans celebrated a point at the end of the game, which was in stark contrast to the feeling in the City camp, but it was a feeling McEleney could empathise with.

“I’ve been at the bottom of the table and I know what it’s like,” he said. “Every point counts so I can understand it from their point of view. For us, it’s two points dropped, but the overall performance was good. We came out and we started the second half well, which we haven’t done in previous games. We came out and put them on the back foot and put balls in the box and tested their goalkeeper early doors.

“We were looking for a good reaction and a good performance and I think we did that. The only thing we didn’t have was the wee rub of the green on the night; I’ve hit the post with a header and James (Akintunde) has missed one and there were a few scrambles around the box and on another night one of them falls for us, but that’s football. You have to take the tough with the smooth and push on. We can take positives from it, but we go into Friday now and it’s a must three points at home.”


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