BetweenTheStripes.ie sit down with Stephen Meaney of Drogheda United
Interview by Joe Scully.
Now in his third season at the club, it’s been far from plain sailing for Finglas native, Stephen Meaney at Drogheda United, having endured a wretched time with injuries. After signing for the club in 2017, and after scoring 18 times for the clubs under 19’s and winning both the Manager and players player of the season awards, his performances for Derek Boyle’s side would see him make his first team debut in the clubs penultimate game of the season against Finn Harps, also netting his first goal in a 3-2 win for the Boynesiders.
Meaney ended up renewing his contract with the Louth based outfit for 2018, and became a first team regular making eleven appearances, before disaster struck, when he injured himself in a workplace accident, an injury which would keep him out for the rest of the season. Speaking about the injury Stephen commented:
“It was a really tough time to be honest, but if anything, it made me stronger mentally”. “It was a bad fall I had 18ft, which could’ve ended a lot worse”. “So, I’m extremely grateful to be back playing and feeling fit”. “Any player will tell you how hard it is been injured for a long period of time like that, but I wasn’t working or playing football so you find yourself with a lot of time spent by yourself, which isn’t good but I tried my best to keep my mind and my body active as much as possible so I didn’t find myself stuck in a rut and feeling sorry for myself, which would’ve probably been an easy thing to do”. “Every minute I got I was doing something to benefit me getting back out on that pitch”.
For most League of Ireland players, who are mainly signed to just one year contracts at their clubs, an injury layoff like that suffered by Stephen would be a worrying time, not knowing if the club would be willing to stick with you and offer you a new contract. But for Stephen this wasn’t really a worry as he was assured by the club’s manager and his number two that he would have a future.
“I have to give credit to Tim Clancy and Kevin Doherty who helped me so much, and told me not to worry and that there was a contract there for me next year, which is an unbelievable thing to hear when you’ve been told by doctors and specialists that you’ll be out for the season”.
Stephen would make his return from injury at the start of the current season and he has felt the season has gone well so far for him. “On a personal level the season has been good so far, I worked my way into the team a couple of games into the season and thankfully have been playing since and popping up on the scoresheet now and then too”. This also included his first career hat-trick in a 5-3 win for the club away to Athlone, a feat of which he is very proud.
“Yeah 100%, that was an unbelievable feeling to score my first LOI hat-trick, one of the best nights of my career so far, and I don’t think I’ll be forgetting it anytime soon”.
Sadly however, just as Meaney’s career was starting to pick-up again, he was struck down by another injury, in the teams recent win over Galway United. Sustaining ankle ligament damage, Meaney is expected to miss up to a month of action, which has left the striker very frustrated.
“It was a frustrating one alright, especially how it happened, and how early it was in the game”. “But it’s coming along nicely and with a top-quality physio, David Cooke working wonders with it, I’m feeling good, and I will be back sooner than a month”.
As for the club itself, their season has been going along nicely, as they currently sit third in the table, just two points off the leaders Shelbourne and in with a great chance of promotion, in what is shaping up to be a very competitive First Division with only six points currently separating the top six sides. Speaking on the club’s season, Stephen had this to say:
The season is going well so far in my opinion, but it’s still early doors”. “I think people were writing us off at the start of the season, but we didn’t care about that, we’ll keep doing what we’ve been doing just taking it one game at a time”. On whether he thinks the club can achieve promotion he had the following to say, “As I said it’s still early doors and to be honest, I don’t think anyone can predict what’s going to happen in this year’s First Division”.
Looking to the future, Stephen has big ambitions and hopes to continue to play at the highest level possible for as long as he can.
“My hopes for the future would be to continue playing football at a top level for as long as possible”. When asked about possible future international honors “Nobody knows what the future holds but hopefully one day I can play for Ireland” remarked Meaney.
As for now however, Stephen, who recently celebrated his 21st birthday, is focusing all his energy on recovering from his latest injury setback and looking to get back firing in the goals for Drogheda and trying to help them secure promotion back to the Premier Division.
Have you listened to our hit weekly podcast yet? Between the Stripes LOI podcast is one of Ireland’s most popular weekly podcasts, featuring big name interviews, red-hot debate and all the latest fixture reviews and previews with plenty of laughs thrown in along the way. Why not give it a go and listen to this weeks show below. S3EP15 is headlined by interviews with Cobh Ramblers manager, Stephen Henderson and Finn Harps defender, Daniel O’Reilly.