'I felt strongly about things and I would have been unhappy with myself if I stayed' - Duff breaks silence on Irish exit

Duff has spoken publicly for the first time since quitting Stephen Kenny’s staff.

Damien Duff speaking on RTE about his exit from the Irish camp.
Damien Duff speaking on RTE about his exit from the Irish camp.

DAMIEN DUFF HAS broken his silence on his shock decision last month to quit the Republic of Ireland coaching set-up. 

Duff was effectively Stephen Kenny’s number three in the set-up, but dropped a bombshell at the start of the year in walking out after eight months – and eight matches – in the role. 

Goalkeeper coach Alan Kelly also left the set-up last month, citing concerns about Covid-19. He has been succeeded by Dean Kiely, while Duff has yet to be replaced. 

A brief FAI statement announcing Duff’s exit did not explain his decision to step away, and Duff has not spoken publicly until tonight, when appearing as a pundit on RTÉ’s Champions League coverage. 

“I appreciate you have to ask but I don’t really have a lot to say on the matter”, said Duff. “I know I made the right decision as not one day has passed in which I’ve regretted it. I know it’s not ideal for the manager, but at the same time it’s a chance to bring in a better coach than me. 

“He has done it already on the goalkeeping side with Dean Kiely, a great guy who will bring a lot of energy to the side and a coach who is at the top level in the Premier League every week.  

“At the end of the day the only person who has lost out is me, by walking away. You’re soon forgotten, so I’m sure the staff and the players don’t have a problem with it now; I’m sure it’s all water under the bridge.

“I have lost – I should say I’ve given up, as I’ve walked away – the chance to represent my country which is a massive, massive honour, the chance to coach elite players which doesn’t come around very often, and I’ve lost a lot of focus as well, which a lot of ex-players will tell you that you need. 

“I felt strongly about things and I would have been unhappy with myself if I stayed.” 

The42 understands Duff’s problems were primarily with the FAI rather than Stephen Kenny, particularly the Association’s handling of the ‘videogate’ affair in which Kenny was found to have no case to answer by the FAI after an internal inquiry into a motivational video shown to Irish players prior to a defeat to England. 

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Duff, however, did not explicitly state his problems were with the FAI, though did draw a distinction that his leaving the FAI does not mean he is leaving Irish football, and continues in his role as U17s coach at Shelbourne. 

“I know football people want to know, but I just want to keep it private. 

“When you guys asked me two weeks ago to do the show, you told me you will have to ask me, and I thought, ‘Really?’

“But I can’t hide away in my house for the rest of my life because I’ve left the FAI. People will say I’ve let my country down, but I’ve let nobody down.

“I will continue to dedicate myself to Irish football in a different capacity by coaching young players and improving young players, hopefully improving myself as well, but all I’ve ever done since I wore the Irish shirt at 14, is dedicate myself to Irish football. I’ve never let my country down, and I’ll continue to work for Irish football.” 

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Gavin Cooney

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