Player of the Month Jordan McEneff continues to grow in confidence after putting his injury woes behind him

Derry City's Jordan McEneff with his SSE Airtricity/SWI Player of the Month award for February. Photo: Sportsfile

Seán O'Connor

Derry City's Jordan McEneff admits he had completely lost his confidence after suffering two fractures in his back, but is enjoying his football again after putting the injury woes behind him.

The former Arsenal U-21 midfielder worked his way back to fitness before joining Shelbourne on loan in February 2022. His fitness troubles continued at Tolka Park though after picking up a knee injury, as he made just 16 league appearances for the Reds.

The 22-year-old decided to cut ties with the Gunners after six years and rejoin his home-town club last August. Four appearances followed last term including a goalscoring cameo in the FAI Cup final, and he’s kicked on again with four goals in six games with Derry second in the table ahead of tonight’s meeting with Shelbourne (7.45).

“Back a couple of years ago my confidence was completely gone, so to say that I’m back fit, playing and scoring goals, it’s a great feeling,” said McEneff, as he was awarded the SSE Airtricity/Soccer Writers Ireland Player of the Month for February.

​“I hadn’t played any football for 14 months before I joined Shelbourne. To be fair, Damien (Duff) was fantastic. I had two fractures in my lower back on both sides, so it was one injury after another.

“My performances weren’t as good as I’d hoped but it was a good experience and everyone at Shelbourne was fantastic to me. Then to come to Derry and come on in the cup final and score a goal was a relief. It was the best day of my career.

“I don’t like using excuses. It’s just good to be back playing and trying to get back up to speed. To win the Player of the Month isn’t easy because of the quality in the league. To win it in the first month gives you a bit of confidence.”

After defeating Shelbourne 4-1 in last year’s FAI Cup final, McEneff faces his old club again in Drumcondra this evening. The midfielder, who signed a new two-year-deal last November, praised both Duff and Candystripes boss Ruaidhrí Higgins, and hopes to extend their unbeaten start to 2023 – the only side yet to lose so far.

“The detail they both go into in training is at a very high level,” added Derry native McEneff.

“So to be able to work under both of them, Damien Duff obviously played at the highest level there is, you are only going to learn things from them both on and off the pitch.

“It was good to start the first few games and get a few goals, which did the world of good for my confidence; hopefully it continues.

“The last couple of games we’ve had a couple of frustrating draws. We’re happy but we want to be better.”