Duff relishing final Dublin Derby

Shelbourne Head Coach Damien Duff is looking to keep up the momentum as the Reds face into their final game of the SSE Airtricity League campaign and then the FAI Cup final.

The Reds make the short trip to Richmond Park to face St Patrick’s Athletic Sunday evening at 7pm.

The squad trained fully this week at the AUL ahead of the clash with their Dublin rivals. In team news, Duff told ShelbourneFC.ie he has virtually a fully fit squad to choose from bar Shane Farrell who has picked up a knock: 

“Shane Farrell is struggling unfortunately, he’s not going to be in the squad tomorrow, he’s dealing with an injury issue. Being honest he’s a doubt, probably in a race for the FAI Cup final to prove his fitness. 

“We’ll give him every chance and we’ll do what we can to get him right. We’re not thinking of resting lads, we want to keep them sharp and so near on everyone will get minutes against Pats. A lot of boys that will be starting tomorrow will start in the cup final. We’re going strong”

This will be the fourth meeting between the sides this year, St Pats won the bragging rights on opening night with a 3-0 win over the Reds, the next meeting saw Shels leave Richmond Park with 3 points after a 2-1 win. Most recently at Tolka Park, the game ended in a 4-4 draw, a cracking game in which the Reds were unlucky not to leave with all 3 points. Reflecting on the games between the sides.

Duff said: “They’ve been close games, even the first game of the season. Aside from the goals we gifted them in Tolka on that opening night, live on tv, we took positives from it.

“There is an edge to the game, the rivalry probably has a spark back after being dormant for a few years, which is good, very healthy, I want clubs to know we’re here and back in the premier. There’s needle there between the team. We saw it in the last game between staff and players. We shouldn’t need a team talk tomorrow. Very similar to the Drogheda game, lads will lift themselves for a game like this.”

St Pats head into this one having lost to Sligo 1-0 in their last outing, and the game before that suffered a 4-1 loss to Shamrock Rovers. After successive defeats, Duff is braced for a backlash from the Inchicore side: 

“Every game is different, this is a Dublin derby. It probably killed them a bit mentally they can’t get Europe through the league. Obviously we know who they’ll support next week in the final, that’s fine, doesn’t bother us. I know they’ve had successive losses but generally I don’t look into form and recent results too closely before a derby game. We’d look at shape, personnel and patterns, I don’t think those recent results will mean much at 7pm tomorrow.”

The Reds will go into the FAI Cup final as underdogs, with many neutrals hoping for a Derry City victory. Duff says his players are happy to embrace the underdogs tag:

“We’ll always try to lift the players emotionally and plant little seeds and we use it to our advantage, similar to what was said down in Waterford, if it’s us against the world, so be it. Doesn’t bother us at all. I enjoyed that type of mentality as a player and I think lads thrive on it.”

Duff expressed his regret that he won’t be able to make it to the FAI Cup final at the Tallaght Stadium as Shels take on Athlone Town. The Reds boss was in attendance at the game in Wexford last week as the side clinched the WNL title. 

Duff said: “I’m over the moon for them, I really hope they can do it this year. I was disappointed for them last year, to have a chance now to make up for that loss in a final is brilliant. The opportunity to win a double, what a position to be in. 

“The loss last year against Wexford in Tallaght, a tough one for them to take, I brought my kids there for the final last season, what that team has achieved is inspiring, we were there as well last Saturday in Wexford, myself and the kids, they loved it. Seeing Shels lift the league trophy, great representatives of our club, great memories. What that team has done for the club is brilliant. 

“Noel King deserves credit, the whole team really, it’s a great achievement. Pearl Slattery as well, what a leader and role model to other players and young kids. Hats off to them both, what they’ve led that side to is special. 

“I hope it’s a great day for the club. Doing the double and hopefully we can follow with a bit of a double of our own, us beating Pats and winning the FAI Cup Final. I’ll try to catch as much of the game as I can preparing for our match, I would’ve loved to be there again, it’s a shame I can’t be.”

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