Shaun McElwaine admits that he ‘lost heart’ in football, but the teak tough Fanad United defender is enjoying the game again.
Although a 2-1 defeat by Cockhill Celtic in their last game shot the Fanad men off course in their Ulster Senior League title bid, McElwaine is more upbeat about than he had been in recent times.
McElwaine has been central to Fanad’s revival and has been named as the Watson Menswear Player of the Month for November 2016.
A son of Fanad legend John McElwaine, he is cut from the same mould as his father and his performances have been key as Fanad have shown signs of a recovery.
Bottom-of-the-table last season, the record 14-times Champions, were on Cockhill’s coat tails until that narrow defeat at Triagh-A-Locha.
“It’s left now that we’re depending on other teams. The League is probably gone, but we still have a lot to play for with the Cups,” McElwaine says.
“We’re enjoying it better now this season. There were times when we were struggling to get a team out. It was hard to believe for Fanad.
“We’re back now trying to get Fanad to where they were; where they should be.”
McElwaine spent three seasons away from Fanad, in the colours of Cranford United, and reached the Premier Division of the Donegal League before returning to Fanad.
He says: “I lost a lot of heart in it. I lost complete heart in football and started playing a bit of Gaelic for a while.
“Arthur took me back to Fanad and I’m definitely enjoying football better than I had been. I’ve had a lot of trouble with injury and it’s hard to make it to training all the time, but Arthur is great to work with.
“Arthur has to take a lot of credit. He is wholehearted and gives 100 per cent.
“He’s brought in some great players again and we’re just glad to be on the move up again.
“We’ve a good few additions and we’ve really built on last season. We have to try now and keep it together.”
McElwaine was just 15 when he was given his debut by then manager Ollie Horgan in the famous red and black stripes.
He was a member of an all-conquering Fanad youth team and was tipped at a time to make the step to senior football. He graduated into a Fanad side that included now manager Lynch, Davy Deery, John Doherty, Dara Patton and Paul Nash.
He says: “Fanad had a name then. We have to get that back. Fanad has always been associated with success.
“Things went pear-shaped for a while, but it’s nice to be back winning games again.”
The recent addition of Finn Harps to the ranks of the USL have boosted the playing numbers, but McElwaine feels that teams from the junior grade are more than capable of making the leap.
He says: “Teams in the Premier Division of the Donegal League and Inishowen League could definitely compete in the Ulster Senior League.
“Plenty of them could mount a challenge if they were brave enough. It would be nice if a few of them could take a look at moving up.”
The Watson Menswear USL Player of the Month award is sponsored by Leonard Watson of Watson Menswear, Main Street, Letterkenny
September: Cathal Farren (Derry City Reserves)
October: Peter Doherty (Cockhill Celtic)
November: Shaun McElwaine (Fanad United)