Duff excited for Dublin Derby

The Ringsend Derby is the only show in town this Friday night as Shelbourne FC make the trip to Tallaght Stadium to face Shamrock Rovers in a pivotal SSE Airtricity League of Ireland Premier Division clash (7:45pm KO)

Damien Duff’s side will travel to Tallaght having picked up a point on the road with a 1-1 draw at Dalymount on Monday night against Bohemian FC.

The training was tailored this week to manage a third game in seven days. After training in the AUL on Thursday, Duff delivered an injury update to ShelbourneFC.ie:

“Matty will be out for the rest of the season and has had an operation on his ankle, it didn’t heal in the way we hoped so he’s going to be out for 8-12 weeks. 

“Kameron Ledwidge came back into the squad on Monday, he is a big addition now as he can cover many positions. Whether be on side or backline or midfield he’s filled in brilliantly. 

“I was delighted to get Brian McManus on the pitch on Monday, we all know what a popular boy he is and what a bad run of injuries he’s had over the last 2 years. He’s a big Man United fan, I gave him number 7 because he reminded me of Bryan Robson, an all action midfielder. He hasn’t been able to show it with injuries but Brian has huge talent. Hopefully we keep him fit and he’ll have a big impact over the coming weeks.. 

“We had a different week in training, a lot of recovery and video walkthrough this morning and getting the players going and tuned in for Friday. Not a lot can be done on the pitch after Friday – Monday week.

This will be the fourth meeting of the season between the Ringsend rivals and Duff and his players have been reflecting on the three meetings to date, which all ended in shared spoils: 

“You can never stop learning, some people might get sick of watching the same footage or doing homework on the team you play for the fourth time, but it’s very important. We did our video and usual walkthrough. We know the quality Rovers have and how they play, speaking to Luke Byrne, he gave me an insight into the players mindsets, maybe a year ago, guys might be a bit tense and uptight and going to Tallaght live on tv, would be very hard on them that week and they’d maybe carry some fear into the game, Luke tells me it’s the opposite now, players are really relishing it, they can’t wait and would snap your hand off for that game to be today.”

Duff feels the addition of quality and experience like Paddy Barrett and Conor Kearns have really helped the group grow:

“I believe they are more mature, quality helps, I think a year of demands that I spoke about on Monday and I spoke about again today with the players in our meeting. Top players like demands, people that win trophies like demands, top teams like demands.

“That’s what we try to instil in our players. Contrary to certain headlines after Monday, I know that this team is ready to take the next step right now, that next step is finishing in the European places. That’s what I’ve spoken about since day one, that’s all we’ve spoken about as a group, it’s ingrained in them, we are absolutely ready to take that step now”

Playing Rovers, the title challengers on their home patch, Duff believes the pressure is not on his players tomorrow night:

“I think the pressure is on Damien Duff, I think it’s on Stephen Bradley, I think it’s on their players, there’s no pressure on our guys. It’s the same every single week, we go in and we encourage them to express themselves, they are relishing it, they are looking forward to it. Happy its live on tv, but they’ve grown and they want to show their ability and their personality.” 

Having to manage without two key attacking options in Sean Boyd and Matty Smith, Duff is pleased with how the team is performing in front of goal but admits he feels there are more goals in the side:

“I think we can score more and be colder in front of goal and killers in the final third, they’ve had a year and a half of coaching. The lads are sponges, that have grown, that second goal in Tallaght last time, in the 2-2 draw, that’s the League of Ireland goal of the season, no doubt about it, that’s the best team goal seen in the league this year, proper quality, real speed, composed finish, proper killers.

“We’re a better team than the team that played there last time, I fully believe that. Look at the quality that has come in Harry Wood, Will Jarvis, Harry Fisk, Euclides Cabral, the bigger the game, the better we play, I expect a big performance tomorrow.”  

Having missed the game through suspension on Monday, Mark Coyle is available for selection, Duff has heaped praise on the impact the midfielder has had since signing for the Reds:

“He’s the epitome of a brilliant signing and shows the importance of doing your homework as a coach and as a staff, no disrespect to Finn Harps, Mark mightn’t have been on the radar for many people, not sure how many were looking at him, which is a shock for me, because he is proper quality.

“A technical player with an edge, wonderful guy, two years later, so much improvement in his game, I think he’s one of best midfielders in the league now, he’s a future captain of this club, Mark is a pleasure to work with, big miss on Monday but its great to have him back, proper man, brilliant signing.”

Duff also singled out the Shels fans for a word of praise after the atmosphere they brought to Dalymount on Monday:

“I say this often in interviews or when I’m chatting to people around the club, the supports have been to me, absolutely fantastic, the people who travel home and away, I hope they know my feelings about them by now, I love them, I was gutted for them we couldn’t take the 3 points home on Monday, when you strip it back, 4 points from 2 games, it leaves us well placed, the form we’re in over the 5 games, the supporters behind us, we believe in the group.

“Why are they vocal and energetic? I said this during the week, I think it’s because they have a team they can be so bloody proud of, proud of the players who wear the famous three castles on their chest, I’m so proud of the players, how they carry themselves, how they represent this club, what it means to them to play for Shelbourne FC, that’s how I feel as a manager.” 


Tickets for the Reds upcoming clash are available here: https://www.shamrockrovers.ie/away-fans-tickets/


Watch all the action on RTÉ2, coverage begins from 7:30pm with kick off at 7:45pm.

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