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Derry: FAI's ban not fair

DERRY CITY boss Stephen Kenny has called on the FAI to be more consistent when it comes to players being punished for skipping international duty.

The Brandywell will welcome another big crowd and the live TV cameras tonight as Dundalk come to visit, and the City fans will be glad to see the very promising local youngster, Patrick McEleneny, make a return to the Derry side.

He has missed the last two games, not through injury or illness, but because he was effectively suspended by the FAI for failing to report for international duty with the Irish U19s for a friendly away to Cyprus last month.

The issue of players being released for internationals, especially friendly games, is nothing new -- count how many times Ryan Giggs or Roy Keane played for their countries in friendly games in their later years.

And it's understandable that a national association feel frustrated at seeing a key player duck out of international duty -- only to play for his club just days later.


But Derry fans feel that the FAI took it way to far when they suspended McEleney from playing for City for their last two games as punishment for not answering Ireland's call for that U19 game, especially as the talented McEleney was seen as a significant 'signing' for the FAI when the Derry native defected from his native Northern Ireland to line out for the Republic.

"I think the FAI need to be more consistent on this because some of what happened in the last two weeks is not fair," said Kenny.

"You had the case of players being excused from international duty with the senior team for the Uruguay game last week, it's happened before with other senior matches where players didn't play in a friendly but then played for their clubs at the weekend. But Patrick, who is a young player and is still making his way in the game, was stopped from playing in our last two matches. It is confusing. The whole thing turned into a bit of a saga and all that we as a club, and Patrick as an individual, want to do is move on."

This saga, as Kenny calls it, really began when the Irish U19 panel for that game in Cyprus was named last month and Patrick -- his older brother, Shane, also plays for Derry and the same Irish U19 side -- was not included despite having been a regular with the U19 side for the previous season.

Patrick was called up as a replacement when someone else cried off, but the player told the FAI that he didn't want to travel for personal reasons. Kenny says that he persuaded the player to join with the squad and he agreed to go, but by then his place had been filled by another call-up, so the squad left for Cyprus without him.

But there were repercussions for McEleney as he was barred from playing for Derry against Shamrock Rovers, and also in last week's league game at Bray.


"The rule is there so I can understand why Patrick was not allowed play in the Shamrock Rovers game," says the Derry boss.

"But to stop him from playing against Bray the following week was harsh, in my view."

"This isn't about the club stopping players from going on international duty. I want that to happen. I encouraged Patrick to travel with the U19s when he didn't want to initially.

"Patrick and his bother Shane have done really well for Derry this season and they could go really far in the game, so hopefully the issue is over now and we can move on."