'It's literally non stop - that’s blown me away' - Duff ready to make managerial bow with Shelbourne

Duff’s Shelbourne begin their Premier Division campaign on Friday week against Pat’s.

Damien Duff, on the touchline for a recent friendly game with Wexford.
Damien Duff, on the touchline for a recent friendly game with Wexford.
Image: Evan Treacy/INPHO

HAVING LONG GIVEN the impression that management at first-team level wasn’t for him, Damien Duff will take charge of his first game at that level on Friday week, as Shelbourne host St Patrick’s Athletic at Tolka Park.

Duff had been coaching at underage level with Shels since leaving Stephen Kenny’s coaching set-up at the FAI, but stepped up to take the top job in the off-season after Ian Morris departed in spite of earning promotion back to the Premier Division. 

“It’s been fine so far”, said Duff of his first couple of months in the top job, speaking at today’s League of Ireland launch. “I guess no coaching badges or anything you learn with FAI will ever teach or prepare you. It’s 24/7, literally non stop. I guess that side of it is the one that’s blown me away. I enjoy it so, no problem.” 

The squad has been transformed under Duff, with among the most eye-catching additions the loan signing of Jordan McEneff, who has arrived from Arsenal until the summer. Joey O’Brien, meanwhile, retired from the Shamrock Rovers playing squad to join him as assistant. 

“The lads are fit, not many injuries. Couple of niggles, especially the way we train. We’ve built a brand new squad overnight, 15 out, 15 in, more or less. Some might call it risky, I thought it’s what the club needed. It’s gone really well but we only find out next Friday and beyond.” 

Duff initially said his ambition for the season is to “do well”, a topic on which he did elaborate slightly. 

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“I think the game should be played a certain way as well. I want to play a good brand of football, hopefully dominate games, which is probably unheard of for a First Division team coming up. That’s one, I guess, of many goals for myself, staff and players. They know what we’re aiming for.

“It’s a massive, massive club and it’s yo-yoed for too long, ten-plus years. Of course, [the primary ambition] is to stablise and to stay in the Premier Division.”

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Gavin Cooney

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