Duff relishing Rovers showdown

The Ringsend Derby is the only show in town this Friday night as Shelbourne FC play host to the Champions in front of a capacity crowd at Tolka Park in the SSE Airtricity League of Ireland Premier Division clash (7:45pm KO)

Damien Duff’s side picked up a point on the road with a 1-1 draw at the RSC in Waterford on Friday night. Sean Boyd netted the equalisers but was sent off shortly thereafter.

Duff was further hampered by the early loss of Shane Griffin to injury, with the defender ruled out of action this week.

He joins Liam Burt on the missing list as the Scottish attacker is unable to line up against his parent club. Duff delivered an injury update to ShelbourneFC.ie:

“Paddy trained this week and is available, he’s an important player in the team and squad, no two ways about it he was a big miss last week. On the flip side, it was a great opportunity for Lewis Temple and he stepped up and played really well, I thought he was one of the better performers on a difficult night, he came off a little early but that was no reflection on his performance, we just wanted to fresh it up, we have a bench, we’ll use it. Paddy was a miss last week, on the plus side he’s back and Lewis did really well when he came in.”

Games against the Hoops recently have been tight affairs, last season saw Rovers edge a 1-0 win at the Tallaght, Shels drew 2-2 in Tallaght, and Gav Molloy was the hero at Tolka netting a late goal in a 1-1 draw. Duff expects a similar tight and cagey affair: “I expect the same again, round one in the league is always a bit chaotic, tight games, we know what we’re facing, they’re the top team in Ireland, everyone wants to beat them. We haven’t done it yet since I’ve been here. Third season lucky I guess, we’re looking forward to the challenge and excited for the game.”

Some have described the Reds as a defensive side at times last season,  Duff feels this doesn’t fully reflect the attacking talent within their ranks: “I think questions like that you’re best asking the players what we work on during the week, some people have a picture of us sitting up in a low black all week, everything we do is with the ball, looking after the ball, dominating it, if we lose it, get it back quick as possible. If you don’t look after it you will defend, outside of that, defensive no it’s not how the staff coach the team, organically it might happen because Rovers can keep the ball for 10, 20, 30 passes, you’re naturally at times going to have to defend. Stuff like that doesn’t bother me, it’s not true I know what we’re about, I know what we are.”

Duff arrived to Shels in the summer of 2020, first taking up the role of head coach of the U17s side. The club has grown at a rapid pace since then. The Reds boss says it’s been a collective effort on and off the pitch to put the club back on the right path: “When I was with the 17s I was solely focused on them, I was close with Lukey but had no interest in the first team really, might ask him a few days later how they got on last Friday, I was all about the 17s. Since I’ve been in with first team, the club is a totally different animal. Why? I couldn’t give one reason. There are good people at the club, people you trust and respect, humble people that care deeply about the club, just as important as all that can deliver quality, that be the players that have delivered or even the staff, the staff come under all those banners, you just have complete trust respect, they’re hard working, they deliver brilliant detail and quality, they’re driving to help make this club better and take it forward.”

General sale for tomorrow’s game sold out on Tuesday afternoon, quicker than any other game to reach capacity at Tolka in the last 18 years. Duff has urged anyone in Dublin, or the surrounding areas, who may not traditionally be a League of Ireland fan, to come down to Tolka Park and give it a try: 

“Well I can try and sell it all you want, you don’t believe it til your here and see it and feel with your own eyes, it’s an energy, it’s a community, it’s a sense of identity, it’s when a lot of people around Ireland feel alive, it’s Friday night 7:45pm, be it a fan, staff or a player, people are living for Tolka Park, under the lights, a big match night,  if you haven’t been before come down, give it a try, I’d be nearly certain you’ll get the bug and you’ll 100% be back.”

“If you can’t already tell, I can’t wait for tomorrow, it’s the best part of the week for me and the staff, I see comments in the press, certain managers in the league, ‘oh I dread Friday’, I won’t name them, but I can’t understand that mentality. It’s the best part of the week, hands down, no disputing it, it’s when you feel most alive, I said that to players last week. 3 months without a game, a long long time, and nothing will match the feeling you get from walking out to Tolka on a Friday night, I told the players, it’ll be the most alive you’ve felt in three and a half months, since last week in Waterford and before that game with Drogheda. It’s a Dublin Derby, Tolka is packed to the rafters, the final message to the players, go and deliver.”


A limited number of unsold season tickets have been made available for sale. You can buy them here: https://bit.ly/sfc1895 


Watch all the action on LOITV, coverage begins from 7:30pm with kick off at 7:45pm. Dave Armstrong joins former Shels manager Ian Morris for commentary at Tolka Park.

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