Duff: “Tolka is where Shels belong”

The Reds are back at Tolka Park for the first time since its future was secured with the passing of Dublin City Council’s motion to grant Shelbourne FC a 250 year lease for the ground.

Waterford FC are the visitors for the League of Ireland Premier Division clash on Friday night, with the action underway from 7:45pm.

Damien Duff’s side will be looking to get back to winning ways after a draw with Drogheda United a week ago at home. 

It’ll be a busy few days for Shels, who will have a trip to Richmond Park to face St Pats on Monday to look forward to:

Duff delivered an injury update to ShelbourneFC.ie after training on Thursday and said: “Shane Griffin is back on the pitch but not available for selection. The good news is we have a full squad to choose from, there are no other injuries to report. The Friday-Monday is where you can earn valuable points. 6 points is massive in this league, it’s hard done. Having a fit squad and a healthy squad is brilliant news and the perfect way to go into two games in 3 days.

Reflecting on the draw with Drogheda last Friday Duff felt on a different night they could’ve left Tolka Park with all three points:

“We as staff pick the bones of every game and bring that into our sessions then for the following week. You could argue we’ve never dominated Drogheda like that before. With 75% possession and enough goal chances to win three games, we just didn’t finish them. It shows how far we’ve come. Yes there’s positives yet we still aren’t satisfied. 

What was missing from Friday’s performance? “It’s all about energy, energy, energy. You could look at the recent performances and say we’re playing well for the most part, maybe even better at times than during the six-game winning run early in the season. What gets me fired up is when we’re flat. We dominated the game against Derry away on the Monday, the same against Drogs, and created chances. But the flatness last Friday at times, I can’t get my head around. I’ve been drilling it all week with the staff and players, energy, energy, energy. We can’t afford to go into games flat. I’ve said it about the league; you won’t get a positive result if you don’t come into games with the right mentality, showing hunger, desire, application and work rate and just all energy for 100 minutes plus. That’s what we need to bring tomorrow.”

Duff sprung changes from the bench that made an impact and he knows ahead of a tight Friday-Monday turnaround the squad depth is going to be vital:

“The big thing I want to see tomorrow is us not wasting any minutes, I pulled the lads over after 15 minutes of the game last week and that was my message to them.

“Look it’s on us, the staff; we’re responsible as well. How can we get them going if it’s needed? It’s collective; we’re all in this together. I think there’s a lot of teams in the same boat in this league. Playing well, but dropping points, that’s the nature of this season.

“Our pre match meeting this week, that was the main message, all these games are fine margins. In round one, we came out on the right side of games, winning; this round, we’re getting more draws. It’s not down to luck; you make your own luck. It’s about how much hunger, desire, quality, and how much you want to win, that’s how you come out on top in games like this, it’s all about those fine margins. Luck has nothing to do with that.”

Tomorrow’s opponents Waterford FC have adapted well to life in the Premier Division and approach this with three impressive wins on the spin. Duff feels Keith Long’s side have started strongly and have brought a lot to the league:

“They are in an awful better shape than when we came up in 2022, full credit to them they have proper quality top-end of the pitch and some real X-factor in attack, people that are game-changers, and we have to be aware of them and how dangerous they will be.

“Really good results and performances from Waterford, and the bit that jumps out is like I said at the top end, so dangerous, nearly all the teams in the country have had a very tough time with them. Looking at them closely over the last two weeks, the tight games, they’re coming out on the right side and that’s down to their work, hunger, desire and the quality they have, it’s nothing to do with luck.”

It was a monumental week for the club off the pitch as DCC councillors voted to grant Shelbourne FC a 250 year lease for Tolka Park. Duff shared his delight in the news: 

“Over the moon for the club; we were in training when we heard it. Always hoped it would happen; that common sense would prevail. This pace is so special, Tolka Park, like Shelbourne, is a Dublin institution. It’s where Shels belong, so much history there; it’s part of our identity. And we plan on adding to that, making our own history here”.


Tickets for the Reds upcoming clash are available here: bit.ly/sfc1895


Watch all the action on LOITV, coverage begins from 7:30pm with kick off at 7:45pm. Commentary from Declan Drake and former Shelbourne manager Ian Morris.

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