Shelbourne Head Coach Damien Duff has urged his players to relish the occasion of a big Dublin Derby as Bohemian FC visit Tolka Park tomorrow night.
It’s the second derby in a week for the Reds, coming 7 days after the narrow 1-0 loss to St Pats on the road.
Duff though says preparations for this week have gone well and confidence within the squad is high:
“We trained really well this week, with our lads they can hide their excitement well at times, but we know how excited they are, it is all business with them and all the prep is done for Bohs.
“Regardless of getting one point from two games. I think it mirrors how we finished the season in 2022, a team in good form, decent performances week to week, but not getting the results the performances were due.
“We should have won the Drogheda game, listen it was the same again then last week if there’s one team that’s going to win it in the end it should’ve been us, we played really well, and that was against a team you could argue will see themselves as among the title challengers, so we can take a lot of positives from the performance, even though we didn’t get the result we deserved.”
Shane Griffin is not expected to be involved in this week’s game as he continues to rehab a muscular issue. Sean Boyd remains sidelined having missed the 1-0 loss to St Patrick’s Athletic a week ago.
Duff delivered an update on the Shels centre forward, with the manager telling ShelbourneFC.ie: “Sean has suffered a groin injury that will require surgery, he’s away next week to get the operation in London. Sean is going to be a big loss for us. He’s going to be out for awhile.
“Jad Hakiki is still working on his recovery. Shane Griffin is not ready yet, but he’s working hard. Sean like I say is unfortunately going to be out long term”
Shels go into the game looking to record a first home win of the new season, after an opening night stalemate with Drogheda United. Duff though feels the performances to kick off the 2023 campaign have been solid:
“So many positives which we spoke about last Friday but we’ve said it many times before, set piece, individual error, it’s cost us.
“Now we have to go about cutting them out and being clinical in the final third. That’s what top teams do and that’s what we are striving to become.
“We’re playing well, and we’re happy with the form. We should be picking up points, we’re not at the moment but I am fully confident that will turn for us. As long as we’re creating chances I’ve no issue, I’ll keep encouraging lads because I have absolute trust in them.”
Gavin Molloy put in another solid display that saw him named in the LOI Team of the Week and in the Irish Independent’s equivalent, while the youngster also caught the eye of former Republic of Ireland skipper Kenny Cunningham, who singled the Dubliner out for praise during an appearance on Off The Ball, official media partner of Shelbourne FC.
Duff feels praise of Molloy is well earned but has urged the versatile midfielder to kick on and build on those fine individual displays:
“Gav would still see himself as a midfielder, as do we on the staff, but he shows the quality he has that he can dip in and dip out and play anywhere.
“To play wherever he is put and be one of the better players on the pitch, shows real quality. The Important thing for young players like Gav, Jack, Shane, it’s not putting in one or two good performances every few weeks. It’s all about building consistency and a string of performances week to week, home and away.”
A sold-out Tolka Park will await Duff’s players tomorrow and the manager is hopeful that the players rise to the occasion and give the Reds faithful a big performance:
“I say it to the players, it should excite you, big derbies in your home ground, it’s what you live for. The Riverside packed and the noise and colour that come from Shels fans there, it’s a great occasion. Look maybe last year because there was a lot of eyes and scrutiny on the club, some of the younger lads maybe did struggle to cope with that at times.
“They’ve come on so much over the last few months, it won’t faze them now. We’re in a position where a lot of young boys played in a FAI final, we’ve brought some experience in, particularly with Paddy Barrett, he’s been a great addition, I think it’s the kind of game that is made for these lads.
The Gypsies lead the League of Ireland going into the third game of the season. Declan Devine’s side are the only team to take 6 points from their opening games. Assessing the form of this week’s opposition Duff said: “Bohs are a different team to the one we played in the FAI Cup last year. They have an energy and togetherness, last year they didn’t look like they had that.
“It looks like the signings and new staff has brought them on, they look more unified. We pride ourselves on being a tight dressing room as well so a team with that unity, can be a match for anyone. On top of that they brought in real quality.
“Keith Buckley knows the league, listen, he’s Bohs through and through. Afolabi is playing well, looks sharp. Dylan Connolly coming back from the UK but he has experience in the League of Ireland. We know they’ve quality from distance, especially off set pieces. Flores and Coote. We need calm heads. No silly fouls.
“Try to control the emotions but balance that with the edge we want to bring to our games. It can be a war at times probably won’t be pretty on the eye but that’s Dublin Derbies, that’s what they’re about.
Tickets for the Reds upcoming clash are sold out.
Watch all the action on LOI TV, every Premier Division fixture is available to watch for €7. Commentary from Darren Cleary and Steven Doody