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Dublin: 6°C Monday 1 March 2021

Damien Duff makes light of 'videogate' and stresses positives ahead of World Cup qualifiers

The Irish assistant used more than a dollop of sarcasm in dismissing the episode.

Duff on RTE's Champions League coverage.
Duff on RTE's Champions League coverage.

DAMIEN DUFF, NOW a member of Stephen Kenny’s coaching staff with Ireland, has made light of the ‘videogate’ saga that erupted around the squad last month. 

The UK Daily Mail reported some Irish players were left shocked by the political nature of a motivational video shown to them by Kenny ahead of a friendly with England at Wembley, with the FAI releasing a statement saying they were looking into the matter “urgently.” 

Following an internal inquiry in which outgoing CEO Gary Owens interviewed many of the people involved, the FAI concluded Kenny had no case to answer. 

Kenny yesterday said the video was a “non-story”, adding he was “surprised” to see the story and the FAI statement in a newspaper. Kenny said the leak did not come from the dressing room, and added, “I think there may be people behind the scenes or elsewhere who want to cause problems for the team.”

Looking ahead to Ireland’s World Cup qualifying campaign next March, Duff made light of the episode. “Nearer the time it’s obviously up to us staff not to make any motivational videos. Even if they are based on true historical events, Irish events that you should be proud of. They can be very offensive to some people, so we’ll stay away from that in March.” 

Qatar have been added to Ireland’s qualifier group along with Portugal, Serbia, Luxembourg, and Azerbaijan, though the Gulf state’s games in the group will be friendlies as they have already qualified for the finals as hosts. 

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Ireland kick off their campaign away to Serbia in March, and need to top the group to qualify automatically for a first World Cup finals in 20 years. Second place will earn a play-off place. 

Ireland go into the campaign without a win – and just one goal – in eight matches under Kenny, but Duff was accentuating the positives in an appearance on RTE’s Champions League coverage.

“There’s an awful lot of doom and gloom around the football team at the minute. But the Slovakia game – a good team that dominates teams around Europe – we have gone there and dominated them. 

“We played football the right way, creating chances the right way, playing through them, not just playing more direct stuff that we have been known to do. 

“Not just crossing balls for the sake of crossing, it was playing attractive football the way people want it played.” 

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Gavin Cooney

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