Duff ready for Sligo showdown

The Reds return to Tolka this Friday having picked up six points from tough trips to Richmond Park and Tallaght Stadium last week. They face Sligo Rovers (7:45pm KO).

Damien Duff’s side will be looking to continue a brilliant recent run which includes back to back wins over St Pats last Monday 2-1 at Richmond Park, and the champions Shamrock Rovers 2-0 in Tallaght Stadium last Friday.

Duff delivered a squad update to ShelbourneFC.ie after training on Thursday and said: “First time in three seasons, we don’t have a single injury or doubt, it’s a great place to be in and almost unheard of in this league.

“We’ve had a good training week. Everyone came through it. Real energy and enthusiasm about the group. Great to have Shane Griffin back in contention after a calf injury. It’s been a tough time for Griff, he’s put serious work to get back into the mix. He’s been feeling like he’s missing out and letting everyone down. We’ve assured him, that is in no way the case. He’s been a brilliant player for us on and off the pitch, he’s played a huge role for Shelbourne Football Club over the last two and a half years. Delighted to have him back in contention.”

The meeting earlier in the season saw the Reds beat Sligo 1-0 at the Showgrounds, John O’Sullivan getting the final steer on a Sean Gannon effort. Duff feels a lot has changed since then: “Will we take a lot from that? Not a lot, to be brutally honest. Much of the recent footage shows they have had a lot of new faces since then. A lot of it will be different: different weather, different climate, and different pitch. Tolka too is looking in good shape at the moment, it’s improving which is great. We know and the players are fully aware that Sligo Rovers is always a team to be feared and respected; it’s in their DNA to have dangerous players, real attacking quality and we know this will be one of the toughest tests we’ve had all season.”

Will Jarvis has been in flying form and put in a man of the match display in Tallaght a week ago, he’s contributed to goals in his last 3 games (2 goals, 2 assists). Duff says the form of the Englishman is particularly pleasing given the close attention he gets: “Early on, Will was in amazing form and so feared. Probably, teams were looking at us, wondering if we were a one-trick pony, did everything in our attack revolve around Will. That’s not the case, it’s up to the other players to stand and deliver. People have delivered: you look at Matty Smith last week, won both penalties, Sean Boyd scoring big goals for us, we know the quality we have there. Will is a marked man. I told him, don’t be fooled—your season gets more difficult as a marked man, you have a target on your back. Despite all his ability, one thing we tried to hammer home was his off-the-ball movement. 

“Be more aggressive, lose your marker, find space, make more penetrating runs. He needs many strings to his bow—don’t just dribble; be the full package. That’s what we’re seeing in recent weeks. I never worried, I don’t think he had a dip in form, I think it was a case of Will has the ability but he was getting a lot of extra attention from the opposition.”

Duff has urged his players to bring the same mentality that has led them to successive Dublin Derby wins in recent matches to tomorrow night at Tolka:

“We’ve hammered that home all week. Performances outside of Dublin Derbies needed to be better. It bodes well that our last game at home was against a non-Dublin team, Waterford FC at Tolka, and it was a dominant display. The team has constantly evolved and grown in my time here. Yes, I’ve criticised them about being highly motivated for Dublin derbies and not always the same for other games. The reality is it’s the same three points on offer, this is just as big as any derby and you could argue it’s one of the biggest of the season. Tomorrow, regardless of where they are in the league table, our lads have to be highly motivated. Based on training this week I’d be confident that is what we will see.”

The Reds game against Bohs on Monday was cancelled due to international call ups. Duff doesn’t feel the change is a help or hindrance either way: “We always just adapt. If we’re on, great; if we’re off, no bother. Whatever their valid reasons for calling it off, it will give some guys a chance to take a bit of the load off. Some players have to deal with chronic issues. We’ll take the benefits out of it where we can.”

Tickets

Tickets for the Reds upcoming clash 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 Declan Drake and Shels legend Stuey Byrne.

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