Patrick McEleney is a man playing with a new lease of life at the moment.
Having missed last year’s FAI Cup final through injury, he thought his season had been ended prematurely again when he suffered a groin injury in the 3-0 defeat to Arsenal at the Emirates.
However the 28-year-old made impressive cameo displays off the bench in the FAI Cup win over Bohemians and last Thursday’s 3-1 Europa League defeat to Rapid Wien before following it up with a man of the match display in just his third 90th minute match of the season away to Athlone on Thursday.
Having not scored since August 2019 or assisted since September 2019, the Derry man was in superb form as he made four goals and scored another as Dundalk claimed a record breaking victory over the Midlanders.
Speaking to The Argus afterwards, McEleney admitted he was thriving from just being free from injury at last.
“I think that’s what it is,” he said.
“I’m just happy to be out there to be honest. It might sound a bit stupid to say but it’s genuinely as simple as that.
“It has been really stop start for me as everybody knows so to get a goal and a few assists is great.
“I was happy to get through another game tonight and I’m hoping to kick on now for the final three games of the season,’ he said.
Now McEleney is hoping to make up for the disappointment of missing last year’s FAI Cup final where he could only look on helplessly as Dundalk lost to Shamrock Rovers 4-2 on penalties.
“I think it’s the final that everyone wants,” he said.
“Missing the final last year, it doesn’t go away in your mind and I’m sure it’s the same for Chris Shields as well. Just hopefully everything goes well now and we can look forward to it.”
While McEleney had sympathy for Athlone, he felt that kind of performance had been coming from Dundalk.
“It was a good result. A lot of boys scored and everyone is playing for places and I think that’s why we did so well.
“I think that sort of result was coming. They’re a young side and obviously a First Division team but I think we had been threatening it. Even in the European games we have been creating a lot of chances. It was good to get a lot of confidence from the boys putting the ball in the net.
“We have to shoot for something and the Cup is it. There’s a lot of pride to play for and places in the final so we’ll be ready for it,” he said.