Duff: “We know what’s at stake”

The Reds face their final game before the summer break tomorrow. Damien Duff’s side travel to the RSC to face Waterford. (7:45pm, LOITV)

“Lewis Temple is still unavailable. He’s in the middle of his leaving cert.  We’re going into the game with a few bumps and bruises from last week, a couple of guys carrying knocks. I’ll make a call closer to the game because we’re still monitoring.” 

Duff’s Shels are the form team in the League of Ireland Premier Division, having taken 13 points from the last 6 games. No side in the league has done better in that time. The only blot on the copy book was a 2-1 loss to Sligo Rovers at Tolka Park two weeks ago. Duff feels they’re motoring along nicely:

“The Sligo game may have dampened it for fans, but our recent form has been great, we’re the form team in the division and we want to take that into tomorrow night. Last season, we played Sligo at home just before the break and it was a forgettable enough occasion, a dull 1-1 draw. It’s much better to go into the break with a win. The lads are in good spirits, in great form all week in training, and raring to go tomorrow night.”

The Reds head into the mid season break knowing a win would keep them top of the table. Duff feels that the League of Ireland has come on a long way in the manner players now approach the holiday period:

“What’s happened before in this league is irrelevant. The culture we’ve created now is different, and we are different. It’s nice to get a few days off, but the summer break is about recharging, taking it handy and maintaining fitness. In the past, players might have been on the drink for the week, but not with us.

“That won’t happen. If anyone goes away for a week of drinking, we’ll know immediately, first day back in training, it’ll be obvious. The lads know they can’t afford to do that. They’ve been given individual plans, and we trust them. We’re not sending them away with the GPS vests. In the environment we’ve created, we have our standards, players are all in on that, we know the players will follow through.”

Waterford come into the game off the back of an eye catching 4-1 win over Sligo Rovers a week ago and Duff heaped praise on the quality of Keith Long’s side:

“I told the guys today that it’s such a dangerous game for us, just look at their squad, their results, their performances. They have a lot of dangerous players, would get into many teams around the league. Padraig Amond is one of the best in the league—what a signing he’s been for them. Full of confidence, scoring for fun. We know what’s at stake and understand the dangers, it’s about matching that now.”

Summing up their season so far ahead of the final game before the summer break, Duff said:

“I think we’ve improved as the season has gone on, that’s been a theme since I’ve been here, the team has grown as the season progresses. Over recent weeks, we laid a challenge down to the guys on lifting levels for non derby games, we saw that with wins over Waterford and Dundalk, a lot of the display against Sligo, it wasn’t the result we wanted, we gave away poor goals but the performance was dominant. 

“We can’t always rely on the crowd to get us up for games outside of the derbies. We need to find that in us. It’s a squad game too. The subs need to be ready. Last week, we were ultra-dominant, and it was very similar against Waterford in Tolka.

“We’re just growing in quality and that has been the case from year one, to today. There’s a lot more in this team now and they’ll continue to grow. The game has evolved and changed. It’s a 100-minute game, if it’s 0-0 at 70 minutes, we still believe we can win, we need the fans to believe too and stay with us for the 100 minutes.

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