09 Aug 2022

Former Derry City star McEneff is the ace of Hearts

Aaron comes off bench and stakes his claim for first-team action with goal in Edinburgh side's thrashing of Dundee United

Aaron McEneff

Former Derry City midfielder, Aaron McEneff, finally got some game time for Hearts last week and he celebrated with a goal in the Jambos' 5-2 win against Dundee United

Former Derry City midfield ace, Aaron McEneff, looks to have given his Hearts career a reboot after hitting the target in the Jambos' 5-2 win against Dundee United.

McEneff, who moved to the Scottish Premier League side earlier this year from Shamrock Rovers, has spent most of the season kicking his heels in the stands with the Edinburgh side having made a good start to the campaign without him.

However, a recent stutter in form saw Hearts suffer their first defeat of the season at Aberdeen and with midfielder Andy Halliday being sent off in that game, a berth opened up for McEneff – albeit on the bench.

It looked like he would spend the entire 90 minutes on it as well but Hearts boss Robbie Neilson put the former St Columb's School pupil on as a late substitute and Aaron repaid him with a deft chip over the Dundee United keeper to score the Jambos' fifth and final goal of their victory.

McEneff, who made 102 appearances for Derry City between 2015 and 2018, said in an interview with The Edinburgh Evening News: “As you can imagine, if you are out of the mixer it’s tough.

“You have to maintain that belief in yourself. If you don’t, you are really up against it. I’ve always had that belief from a young age.

“It’s just in my character. I’m never going to throw the towel in. You get your chance eventually and it’s up to you to take it. It’s only one goal but hopefully I’ll be involved a lot more and get more goals.

“The boys have been doing well. I’ve been doing well in training. There wasn’t too much chat going back and forward. It was just a sense of biding your time and that’s obviously frustrating as a player.

“I told the gaffer: 'It is just in my character that I’m not going to chuck the towel in. I am not going to be toxic around the group because I get on well with all the lads. I will just keep my head down, keep working hard. When I get my chance, I will be ready for it'.

“I’ve come off the bench a few times this season and I think I’ve done quite well. All I can do is take chances when I’m given them.

“It’s been a good few weeks, months maybe. You’re working hard in training, biding your time, waiting for a chance. You get the opportunity to get back on the bench again, so when you get the chance back on the pitch you try to make a positive impact.

“You want to stake your claim and show the manager what you can do. Hopefully I’ve done that. You keep your head down and work hard and get your rewards.

“I’m quite a deep thinker when it comes to football. I love the game and I’m interested in seeing how coaches and managers think.

“It’s something I enjoy and in football this happens sometimes. When you’re up it’s important not to get too high and when you’re down you can’t get too low.

“You have chats with the manager and staff but ultimately you’ve got to just keep your head down and work hard in training. Then you need to believe you can take your chance when it comes.”

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