Shels make the trip to the Showgrounds Saturday (7:45pm) to take on Sligo Rovers in the SSE Airtricity League of Ireland Premier Division.
Damien Duff’s side are looking to extend their good run of late which has seen them go seven games without defeat.
They go into this one off the back of a narrow 1-0 win over UCD a week ago at Tolka Park in the league.
Damien Duff delivered a positive squad update as his long term injured players slowly start to return to action. He told ShelbourneFC.ie: “Sean Boyd is back running and kicking balls, he’s not too far away which is great to see. Gav Molloy not too far away either, he’s back doing some training.
“Conor Kane is going to be playing for our U19s on Sunday in the AUL against Treaty United, if anyone is around, go down and cheer on the Reds, starts at 2pm. It’s great to see Conor coming back and getting match minutes we hope. Mark Coyle is back fit and available to start a Premier Division game, which is a big boost.”
Shane Griffin got the only goal of the game in a 1-0 win against UCD at Tolka last Friday, while the unbeaten run was further extended with a 2-0 victory over Wexford FC in the Leinster Senior Cup, a victory that set up a semi-final date with Bohemian FC. Despite the solid run of late Duff knows his squad can improve:
“I guess finding a way to win against UCD is a big positive, we can play better for sure but we have to pick up points, that’s the main aim, so finding a way to do that as well as working to get our performance to where I know we should be is pleasing.
“The most pleasing aspect of the win over Wexford on Monday was the young players. They gave everyone at the club a boost. Believe it or not even the older players get excited about that. I said it after the game there was just a sense of energy and excitement in the air to see the young lads step up and really perform, especially in difficult weather.
“We would like to see improvements, we have another level to reach, we have spoken openly about it with the players and publicly in the press and in post match interviews, people know our ambitions, we want to win first and foremost but I think we can be more dominant in games, everything we work on is with the ball, we want to impose ourselves on other teams and dominate and start really looking after the ball, we’re still wanting more from the guys, but to their credit they have been amazing, putting their bodies on the line game after game, working for each other every week and doing everything they can to try to find way to win.”
Sligo come into this game 7th in the table, having lost their last game to Dundalk. The Bit O’Red have struggled to find consistency at times this season but Duff knows they are a formidable side full of quality:
“Look Sligo Rovers are a dangerous team, a lot of quality, recruited really well, you have to admire that. It can be difficult to source quality from outside Ireland, you never really know what you’ll get, listen they’ve had mixed results but outside of that they can click and put in a top performance at any moment.
“Look at the players they have. They are a very very dangerous team, no doubt a bit wounded from the home result last week and we know we’ll have to be at our very best to beat them.”
Duff’s side edged the most recent meeting of the two teams, an OG and a Matty Smith goal gave the Reds a 2-1 victory at Tolka, the Reds boss knows they’ll need to start the game a lot better than they did when the sides last played each other:
“We watched it back, I showed a lot of it this morning. For the first 6 or 7 minutes we were outstanding, went into our shell a bit then and doubted ourselves when we didn’t score, Sligo got a good patch and to be honest we caused ourselves a lot of problems, without a doubt they had great chances.
“We hit the reset button at half time, we rode our luck for sure, but we got the win, we deserved it, we know though we won’t be that lucky again, I warned the players this morning, we can’t rely on luck tomorrow. A proper performance will be needed to get a win there, they are a dangerous team, quality players, we know the challenge ahead.”
Duff signed off his pre-match press conference by extending well wishes to the Shelbourne FC U16 side that will contest the All Ireland Final this Saturday: “It’s an exciting weekend for the club”, Duff said.
“I have eyes on our game in Sligo but I wanted to wish the U16s lads well in the All Ireland final. I think some people may not realise quite how big that achievement is. To play in an All Ireland final is massive, it really is. I never got to that final myself during my schoolboys days, it’s not easily done. Let me tell you, you’re playing against some of the best teams in the country. It’s a great achievement.
“I have a huge amount of respect for the DDSL, sometimes people can disregard it, the focus is on the UK and academies there, but I have boys who came through the DDSL, they’re in our squad now and they haven’t made it to All Ireland finals. There’s no one pathway to the top, the DDSL is a great platform for players, and it doesn’t always have go through the League of Ireland.
“I’m wishing Darren, his coaches and the lads all the very best, I’m sure they’ll bring the trophy home, I’m proud of them, the club is proud of them, and I wish them well.”
Tickets for the Reds upcoming clash are available here: srfcdirect.com/away-tickets/
Watch all the action on LOITV, coverage begins from 7:35pm with kick off at 7:45pm.