Home > Shamrock Rovers Player Interviews for programme > Aaron McEneff in Top Form

Aaron McEneff in Top Form

‘Oh Bradley said, We’re gonna’ play him in centre mid, Oh words can’t describe, When we see him in the green and white.
He is divine, He scores belters all the time, That’s why he is the best, He’s Aaron McEneff.’

Rovers supporters song about Aaron McEneff

In the run up to last Friday’s game in Turner’s Cross, Hoops Head Coach Stephen Bradley said that it is “the toughest place in the country” to go and get a result and looking over Rovers’ recent record down in Cork that certainly seemed to be the case.

Since Shamrock Rovers’ win away to City in 2013, the Hoops had played eight games there – losing six and drawing two – but came into this match on the back of five league wins in a row.

By the end of the evening, the 3-1 win for the Hoops left City 15 points off Shamrock Rovers who had a ten point gap at the top of the table – a great position to be in having played every team in the top division once (along with Finn Harps twice).
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Centre-mid
Picking up the man-of-the-match award was Rovers’ centre-mid Aaron McEneff who has been picking up plenty of plaudits for his performances for the Hoops since joining from Derry City in the close-season.

“I’ve never had an easy game whenever I’ve played down there,” said McEneff speaking to Hoops Scene after the win. “I thought we were much the better team. It was some result.”

Green and white
Friday’s win away to last season’s runners up and 2017 league champions, coupled with the wide gap at the top of the table, have made plenty of people sit up and take notice of start to the season for the team in green and white hoops. Rovers have accumulated 25 points from the 30 on offer to date.

“It has been a good start but that all it has been – a start. If you want to be successful you have to put the hard work in every day and the lads to do that. I’ve noticed that since I’ve come to Rovers that the lads are pushing each other on every day. It is great position to be in but I don’t think you can look into it too much at this stage of the season. There is a lot of work to be done.

“I’ve enjoyed going out and beating a lot of teams in the league but it is early. We will have to continue to work hard if we want to be successful.”

It was a great team performance in Turner’s Cross, summed up by Rovers’ opening goal from a fine passing move that culminated in Sean Kavanagh scoring in front of the sizeable travelling support.

“Greg got himself in a great position and he put a great ball in for Sean Kavanagh to score with a great finish. That just shows you the rotation we have in middle as Greg usually holds but he got forward. We have a good relationship between the players as the know who can go and who can stay.”
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Divine
McEneff grabbed his first goal of the game from distance, after getting by Dan Casey and scoring thanks possibly to some divine intervention as a deflection off Sean McLoughlin took the ball by Mark McNulty.

“I jinked past the defender and it opened up a wee bit. It was good to get a bit of luck, I’ll take that all day!

“In the second half we stuck to our game plan, as we had actually being doing well in the first half. We didn’t want to turn it into a fight and a game of second balls.

“We continued to play the ball along the ground. In the second half I think Cork ran out of steam a little bit, especially when the third goal went in. They sort of lost a bit of confidence but we were comfortable in possession.”

Belter
The third goal from McEneff was a belter of a finish. “Jack (Byrne) picks up good positions. Ronan Finn made a run down the line and Conor McCormack followed him, which opened up the space in the hole.

“Jack played a lovely ball into me. I checked over my shoulder and I couldn’t really believe how much time I had at the edge of the box! There was nobody really near me. I took a touch and then hit it. I was buzzing went it went in!”

McEneff with five goals – and now top scorer in this season’s goalscoring charts – is half way to the number he scored in the 2018 league campaign with the Candystripes. The year before, when he was named in the PFAI Team of the year, he scored three against Rovers, and he has brought that scoring form to the Hoops.

“When I signed for Rovers, goalscoring was something I wanted to carry on from what I’ve been doing in the league in the past few years – getting goals. I’ve started well and hopefully that can continue.

“It helps to take the weight one or two players whenever everyone is chipping in with goals. You see it in training every day. The lads are great in front of goal and you’d really put your money on any of the players in our team to get a goal as we can get them from all over the pitch.”

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Best
For McEneff next week it will be a trip back to his hometown. “I’m from Derry. I love playing at the Brandywell. I’m looking forward to going back but I’ll be focussed on getting the job done and getting three points.

“It always tough to leave your home time club. I really enjoyed my time there as that’s where I kind of started my senior career. I felt it was time for me to move on with my career. I thought coming to Shamrock Rovers was the best thing for me. I’ve loved every minute of it so far. Everyone has been very welcoming and has helped me settle in quickly.”

When Derry came to Tallaght for Rovers’ first home game of the season, McEneff was quick to grab the ball when the Hoops won a peno against his former club and he was brave enough to put it away with a ‘Paneka’ style penalty.

“I had it in my head that the ‘keeper was going to dive. I was either going to smash it or dink it down the middle. If felt like I had more control with a dink and whenever it comes off it looks well.

“It was a good feeling when I scored. It was brilliant as it was the first goal into South Stand. The fans there that night were unbelievable and there was a great atmosphere.”

Before the trip north though, tonight the Hoops welcome Waterford to Tallaght Stadium. When the sides met at the RSC on the opening night of the season, Rovers deservedly won 2-1, even though they left it very late – scoring with the last kick of the game.

“I wasn’t nervous coming into my first game for Rovers. I was excited to go and play after a long pre-season. You just want to go out and play competitive games.

“There is no better way than winning in the last minute to start the season in your first game! I thought we played really well on the night. To score in the last minute was an unbelievable feeling. It kicked the season off for us. We took a lot of confidence from that.”

Published in Hoops Scene Number 5/2019 (Shamrock Rovers v Waterford)

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