Duff relishing return to action

The Reds are back in action in the League of Ireland Premier Division after the summer break on Friday night as Galway United visit Tolka Park (7:45pm KO)

The team returned to training at the AUL last Saturday with new recruits Ali Coote and Sam Bone linking up with the squad.

Shels boss Damien Duff delivered a squad update ahead of the return to Tolka. The Reds boss told ShelbourneFC.ie: “Break came at a good time, obviously Paddy Barrett and Sean Boyd missed out for the Waterford game.”

“They’re back fit. The only person to miss the game on Friday will be Mark Coyle, who’s suspended for one game, thankfully just the one. Aside from that, we’re all fit and raring to go.”

This will be the third meeting between the sides this season, the Reds won the first in Tolka 1-0, the game in Galway ended with a disappointing 1-0 defeat. Duff is expecting an entirely different test tomorrow night:

“I think it’ll be different to the games that came before. The pitch certainly wasn’t in great shape back then in Tolka. I think Galway have surprised a lot of teams this year. So you would think they’re not going to come to Tolka and surprise us.

“We know it’s a bloody tough task. Like I’ve said every year here, I always believe that we’ll evolve and get better through the year. Are we a better team from when was it, last March? Absolutely.

“It’s not me underestimating Galway at all. For us to beat them at home and create chances and score goals, we’ll have to be at our best.”

Duff hailed the job John Caulfield has done and said they are enjoying a brilliant return to the top flight: “You could argue every game in this league is dangerous.”

“They’re having an incredible season. Brilliant staff, brilliant manager. Very, very dangerous players.

“I’ve openly said it to our guys this week so I won’t mind saying it to the fans. I always thought or would have said we’re the hardest working team in the league. The more I look at Galway, I’d maybe give that mantle to them.”

“I think that proves how hard the task is. If we’re any way off, as any other game, we’ll get found out.” 

It’s a busy few weeks for the Reds, with League of Ireland, UEFA Conference League qualifying and the FAI Cup to come. Duff says it’s important that the squad remain focused on the bread and butter of the Premier Division:

“When we were back in last Saturday, I referenced Europe for 30 seconds and I said it won’t be mentioned again.

“It’s always there at the back of your mind. We can’t afford to take our mind off anything. In the coming weeks and for the rest of the season.

“A prime example being the cup final in 2022, two weeks prior to it. Lads training, afraid to get injured. Probably not wanting to play the league games because they wanted to be fit for the cup final.

“The team ended up picking itself anyway. So lads could afford to take their foot off the pedal. We’re a different animal now.”

“We’re a squad. A lot of competition in a lot of places in the team. So if guys want to have an eye on Europe and not put their body on the line.

“Whether it be in training or league games. They won’t play in either. It’s very simple.”

“They might have gotten away with it two years ago. Because like I said, there wasn’t a strength in depth. But this time, there is”

Duff also hailed the arrival of the new signings Ali Coote and Sam Bone: “A lot of experience. Sam obviously came in Tuesday. There were some passport issues.

“Ali’s been in since Saturday. He was really eager to come in. Really, really impressive today in training.

“He looked like a class act. The exciting thing for us is he probably can still get a lot fitter. What do I mean by that? I think this league is totally different.”

“It’s unique and it’s certainly different to maybe where he’s come from. Intensity-wise, what he’s been used to. So I’ve no doubt we’ll get a few more gears out of Ali.”

“Which is bloody exciting. Again, brilliant session this morning. I have to say Ali was a standout.”

Tickets

Tickets for the Reds upcoming clash are available here: https://shelbournefc.ie/match-tickets/

TV

Watch all the action on LOITV, coverage begins from 7:30pm with kick off at 7:45pm. Commentary from Declan Drake and LOI pundit Johnny Ward.

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