Duff excited for Dublin Derby

The Dublin Derby takes centre stage at Tolka Park tomorrow night as Shelbourne FC and Bohemian FC do battle. Kick off is at 7:45pm.

Damien Duff’s side come into this one looking to make it back to back wins having comfortably beaten UCD 4-0 at the Belfield Bowl a week ago.

In team news, Matty Smith is closing in on a return to action but will not be ready for tomorrow, Tyreke Wilson missed the last game but has been passed fit to play

“Matty is currently working through his injury and needs some extra time for recovery. Matty had another scan that came back clear, just a bit of bone bruising and the ankle sprain. Griff had a calf strain, he’s recovering. Tyreke has been managing a slight knee injury for some time now, and he missed the UCD game as a precaution to manage his minutes. He is back in training this week and will be available for the Bohs game, which is a special one for him, on a personal level.”

Before the game with UCD, Duff urged his players to identify new leaders in the group. He was pleased with the response they produced at Belfield last week: “It was great to see the lads respond to what was asked of them. We’ve been encouraging it over the past 18 months but honestly we got sick of staff shouting. That’s why we took the approach we did, we put it on the players, we gave Boydy the captain’s armband, we knew we’d get a response from the players and it paid off.

“Sean showed a real presence and it was a great performance. The big thing was lads stepping up, can’t just be Lukey, and helped to drive on the standards, you can’t pick and chose the games, UCD has been a struggle in the past for us, but to their credit a lot of them have stood up and led the dressing room.”

The Reds have a good recent record against Bohs, winning two and drawing two in the last four matches in the League of Ireland and FAI Cup. Duff feels the game is an important one in the calendar:

“In a Dublin derby, every fan may have their own favourite fixture, but I sense that this particular match is big for our fans. The players have been on it in almost every game against Bohs since I’ve come here, they have consistently stepped up over the past 18 months, even in games we lost at Dalyer, they showed fight. I expect more of the same tomorrow night. We had a good performance against UCD, but listen, we know we’ll need to up that level again and play even better than we did last week.

“I sometimes think people can be too much stock on form, going into a Dublin Derby, so much at stake, regardless of what happens, the last game, bad or good, doesn’t mean anything under the lights at 7:45pm tomorrow, it’s an isolated game, a proper derby, rivalry is there, a big match in the context of the league, a special one to be involved in, it means a lot to a lot of people.”

“A big part of improving as a team is getting the mentality right, and that’s innate, a will to want to work hard, when I was playing that came from my mam and dad, it helps with who you surround yourself with, when we sign players and build a dressing room, we’re very careful, we want to bring in guys with the ability on the pitch but the mentality to be an asset to the group, guys with the right mentality feed into that, usually when guys leave it’s because they aren’t the right fit and don’t buy into it.

“Our lads would run through walls for each other, jump off the top of Tolka, I know that, but one thing I want more from them is noise, vocals, pushing each other. Lot of them stood up and showed it in UCD. Now bring it in every day, training matches, on the pitch, off the pitch. Mentality drives everything. It was my biggest asset as a player. We’ve tried to drive that at the training ground for the last 18 months and in every aspect of what we do.”

Tolka Park is sold out for tomorrow’s Dublin Derby, Duff has urged fans to arrive early and enjoy the occasion:

“Our fans are amazing, I’m quick to say that the players would die for each other, it’s the same for the crest, the three red castles and that special bond with the supporters is there. I want the players to drive it again this week, not look to the stands to get you up for it, give them something, give the people a reason to get to their feet. I’m putting responsibility on the players tomorrow to give the fans something to shout about.”

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