Duff braced for tough test against Drogheda

Tolka Park takes centre stage tomorrow night as The Reds go head to head with Drogheda United (7:45pm KO)

Damien Duff’s side will be looking to continue to make it back to back home wins, having defeated St Pats 1-0 in their last game at Tolka.

The Reds faced a tricky trip to Dundalk last Friday, before the long road to Derry on bank holiday Monday. Putting in two strong performances and picking up points in both games.

The Reds boss goes into tomorrow’s game with a full deck to play from: “Everyone is in good shape; Shane Griffin is back to running. We’ll keep monitoring him but great to have him back on the grass.

“Sean Gannon missed Friday, but was back for Monday, a tight turnaround but it’s a massive boost. I was pleased to have him back for Derry because we thought maybe it might’ve been longer and he would’ve missed both games. The fact that everyone is fit is a testament to the players themselves and to Mauro Martins and how well drilled the guys are in and the shape they keep themselves in, and the brilliant work Mauro does.”

The Reds go into Friday after a massive battle at the top of the table that saw Duff’s side come from behind to take a deserved draw at the Brandywell against Derry. The Shels boss was particularly pleased with the way they played:

“Last-minute goals are always nice, whether it’s a win or a draw. The draw felt very deserved. We’ve won there before when Derry have dominated, and we’ve snatched it. This was a better performance. You could say we potentially deserved more from that game. We kept the ball for so long and were comfortable for large spells. 

“The eyes don’t lie, and stats back it up. It was as good a performance as any away team will put in up there. It’s a big learning point for us, a big factor for players to have more belief. Playing against a big team, massive names and dominating the game.”

“It’s a big point in a top-of-the-table clash. Going away to a top team and dominating is something we haven’t done before but it means nothing if you don’t back it up now on Friday, that’s what we need to do.”

Drogheda bounced back from successive defeats on Monday when they defeated Dundalk in the Louth Derby. Duff knows Shels are in for a massive battles

“They’re mad games, us and Drogheda, they’ve been packed with a lot of drama and we know how tough it can be. I watched the game against Rovers in Tallaght; yeah Rovers pulled away, but whether it’s home or away, it’s a really difficult game against Drogheda. They have a lot of players who know the league better than me, they’ve been around the block. Hard side, full of belief, like every game, it’s a tough battle and we need to be ready for that.”

With a tight turnaround between Friday-Monday Duff paid tribute to how the players adapted to a change in tactics for Monday trip north:

“They know how we coach, and I like to think we give half-decent detail. It’s always a risk when you change something from Friday to Monday; will it work, will it take, it would be nice to have longer. But we know how they work, and we weren’t changing things for fun. We back it up with clips, and there’s buy-in from everyone, staff, players. That’s why it feels like a really good point. As I said though, it’s parked now, we need to back it up at home against Drogheda and take the positives from Monday into tomorrow night.”

The stoppage time goal against Derry marked the 5th time this season Shels have scored in the last 15 minutes of a game, no team has scored more goals in the final 15 minutes in the league this season. Speaking on this, Duff said: “There’s a few things that shows: grit, determination, fitness, belief, and togetherness – they don’t throw in the towel. 

“Games have been tight, just a goal in it. We all know their mentality, honest as the day is long and the lads never give in. That’s our mentality, closing out games, we do that by trying to score goals.

“On Monday, we had a lot of attacking players in that last 15 mins, we finished with 2 strikers, 4 wingers, 3 defenders, and 1 midfielder on the pitch, you always felt we would get one more chance. Credit to Sean Boyd when it came, Will Jarvis with the cross, when the chance came, Boydy took it. Amazing resilience. Testament to this team, they will give everything for the jersey until the very end, every week.”

Tickets

Tickets for the Reds upcoming clash with Drogheda United are available here: bit.ly/sfc1895

TV

Watch all the action on LOITV, coverage begins from 7:30pm with kick off at 7:45pm. Commentary from Richie Baker and Adam Leonard.

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