Duff relishing Dalymount Dublin Derby

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All eyes will be on Dalymount Park tomorrow night as the Reds go head to head with Bohemian FC in the League of Ireland (7:45pm KO, live on RTÉ2).

The eagerly anticipated clash is already sold out, with tickets for the away end at Dalymount selling out shortly after going on sale earlier this week.

In team news, Kian Leavy and Paddy Barrett remain sidelined. Sean Boyd and Gavin Molloy returned to light training this week. Neither are expected to be involved in Dalymount.

Reds boss Damien Duff delivered a squad update before training in the AUL on Thursday. He told ShelbourneFC.ie: “We’re hopefully going to get some of the long term lads back on the bench before the break, for tomorrow it’s pretty much as we were for the Pats game.

“We’re not rushing guys, it’s great to see Conor Kane did well last Sunday, he played an hour and that’s off the back of 45 minutes the week before. It’s another step on the ladder.

“Coming back from horrific injury, he needs confidence and match fitness now. The U19s have an in-house game so he’ll train with us over the weekend. We’re not rushing him back. We’ve a few weeks to go still. Conor knows that, he’s patient, he needs to be. Seeing him every day is a massive boost though, the lads are delighted to have him back after what he’s had to come through.”

The Reds will be looking to get back to winning ways after losing narrowly to St Pats a week ago at Tolka Park. A Sam Curtis header sealed all three points for the Saints.

“Last Friday is parked, forgotten about. Lads have quickly changed their focus to this, you have to, it’s a massive Dublin derby”, Duff said, reflecting on last week’s loss.

Bohs begin the night in third place in the League of Ireland table, 5 points ahead of the Reds who are in sixth.

The Gypsies have just one win in their last five games, coming against Cork City. A draw with Dundalk last week came after defeats to Derry City and Shamrock Rovers. 

Assessing the danger posed by the hosts Duff said: “They have amazing quality, they made some big signings in the window, we’ve watched all their recent stuff.

“The game in Dundalk there’s a marked difference between the first and second half. Maybe you could argue they didn’t play with an edge and intensity in the first half, but here when they turned it on, they were a much better team. Flip side of that is the attitude to come back and get yourself into the game from 2-0 down, two set pieces. They’re a dangerous side.”

After an off colour display at Tolka a week ago, Duff outlined the response he wants to see from his players when they make the short trip across town:

“First and foremost, we need to play with a real edge, a proper hunger and desire, a want to find a way to win the game, any win will do.  Dublin derby home or away, they’re not going to be pretty.

“We hope the quality comes because we have some beautiful players, but above all else I want to see us win the battles, the message to the players, anything in front of you, you win it, come out on top in your your duels, do the ugly stuff, there’s no right or wrong way to get a win, I want us to do what is needed to beat whats in front of you.”

The Reds are unbeaten in the last three competitive encounters with their north Dublin rivals and Duff hopes the players can draw confidence from how much the team has grown from their first visit to Dalymount last season:

“Outside of the 4-1 game at Tolka, which was an outlier, the two games away there last year were tight affairs. Games we should have won really. We conceded late on in the drawn game there, and then a narrow 1-0 defeat. 

“We grew a lot as we progressed last season, by the time you get to the 1-1 drawn game at home, we play most of the game with 10 men, we lose two important players to injuries, and we still should win that match. It was an incredible game and performance and one we were very unfortunate not to win, against all odds.

“They’ve been tight, close run games, I expect nothing different tomorrow night.”

Shels go into tomorrow night’s game with the joint best defensive record in the top flight, having conceded just 11 goals in 16 games, level with Derry for the fewest goals conceded thus far. Duff though is keen to address defensive frailties at set-piece time and says players have been working hard to take accountability on that front:

“Our defensive record this season is not black and white, you’d think joint lowest, we’d be happy, but we know we should be doing better, but even with that said, you have in give the guys credit, in open play they’re absolutely outstanding, contradicts itself with set plays, yes we changed our set up, but it still comes down to individual responsibilities at a corner or free kick. 

“Ultimately we know it all comes back on my head and the staff, but the guys on the pitch know what’s expected and what they need to do, if you’re marking someone, that person can’t score a goal. That’s it, it’s as simple as that.

“If you’re a player, you should take set plays as very personal. If you are given a job, that job is to mark your man, make sure they don’t score, you do it, and you do it every single time, every game, from minute one to minute ninety.

“Not doing it, that’s cost us 7 goals this season and it is not acceptable. I’m not sure there’s another team in the league that would have more work  done on video, set up, defending set pieces, we cover it, what we want to see now is that happening on the pitch.”

Tomorrow’s game is sold out, the Bar @ Tolka Park will be open from 6:30pm and showing the game live for any Shels fans who won’t be able to make it to Dalymount.