Duff: “We can and will improve”

Tolka Park takes centre stage tomorrow night as the Reds play host to St Patrick’s Athletic in the League of Ireland Premier Division. (7:45pm KO)

After an 8 game streak without defeat Damien Duff’s side are looking to extend that run to 9 matches, which would equal the record set by Pat Fenlon’s 2006 title winning team.

They go into this one off the back of an impressive 3-0 win over Sligo Rovers a week ago.

Damien Duff delivered a squad update after training in the AUL on Thursday.

He told ShelbourneFC.ie: “Sean Boyd and Gavin Molloy are back fit, we’ll decide whether or not we put them in squad tomorrow. Paddy Barrett we are looking at day to day, he pulled up in training last week, but it’s nothing serious and we expect it to be short term. 

“Conor Kane played 45 minutes for the U19s last week in the AUL, he came though it injury free, just need confidence now to get back up to a competitive level, I’ve been through that myself with an horrific injury as a player, you need to get the body and the head right.

“We won’t be rushing Conor. He’ll be awhile yet. He’ll 60 get minutes this weekend and we’ll continue to watch his progress, but amazing to see him back playing again after all he’s been through”

Jack Moylan got a hat trick in the 3-0 win at the Showgrounds a week ago. The Bayside native has been in flying form and took his personal tally to 6 goals for the season. Duff feels the signs on and off the pitch are positive:

“You can go into stats and what have you, the eyes don’t lie, usually what we see on matchday is backed up by stats. 

“What I saw last weekend I was very happy with, but I still think we can and will improve. It was a really good performance, you could say clean and clinical and we want to see more of it.

“One stand out for us over last season, we grew and I felt we contstantly improved over the course of the campaign, and we’re still seeing that this season.

The Saints come into this game a point behind the Reds and with a game more played. Duff has no problem with Pats going into the game as favourites: 

“They’re the team that were hoping to be up challenging for the title. People are probably shocked by our position and maybe surprised where they are too in the table. When you look at the budget and everything else most people would think they’d be ahead of us. We’re not playing with pressure, I think it’s all on them. Come 10pm tomorrow we still plan to be ahead of them in the table.”

When the sides met early in the season St Pats snatched the win late on with Eoin Doyle scoring the only goal of the game. Reflecting on that meeting Duff said:

“Very close game, we’ll take a lot out of it, looking back we were the better team in the second half, if anyone looked like scoring it was us, that’s League of Ireland football games, they can often not be pretty, can take on a real battle and war feel, then it’s about who can get that one piece of quality to turn the game.

“Eoin Doyle comes on 65 minutes and scores off a set piece. They have that quality throughout their squad. That’s League of Ireland football, could be similar tomorrow but it needs to be us that brings that quality. It’s a big game, Shels – Pats in League of Ireland terms, two great rivals. Some people might try and talk it down, but the rivalry is there for everyone to see, I think it can only enhance the game.”

A huge crowd is expected at Tolka for the game with the Saints, Duff is urging Shels supporters to get to the ground as early as they can: “Shels supporters have been the 12th man home and away since the day I’ve walked in the door, the players, the staff, everyone gets a massive life walking out on a matchday and looking into the stands, and seeing the colour, noise and energy that comes from the guys and girls in the Riverside in particular.

“The fanbase is growing, and it’s brilliant to see people falling in love with being in Tolka on a Friday night. I heard a murmur that there’s a display planned, when they have done them in the past they are incredible sights, so I’d ask every Red to get to the ground early, get over to the Riverside, and make yourself heard and seen.”

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