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'I realise that most people who say that don't have a f****** clue'

Shelbourne assistant boss Joey O’Brien hits back at doubts over Damien Duff’s loyalty as they bid for four wins on the bounce.

Joey O'Brien (left) with Damien Duff (centre).
Joey O'Brien (left) with Damien Duff (centre).
Image: Ben Brady/INPHO

DAMIEN DUFF WILL be back on the touchline for Shelbourne against UCD tonight after serving the last of his three-game suspension during the 2-1 win over St Patrick’s Athletic on Friday.

There were some sceptics who wondered whether the Republic of Ireland centurion would even stick around with the job by this stage.

“I’ve been around a long, long time and I realise that most people who say that don’t have a f****** clue,” his assistant, Joey O’Brien, snapped back at that suggestion following the victory in Inchicore.

Duff’s career since playing has been one dedicated to coaching, beginning within the underage structures of Shamrock Rovers before joining Celtic and then Stephen Kenny’s Republic of Ireland set-up.

That stint ended in acrimony partly because of the manner in which the FAI deemed it necessary to investigate the infamous motivational video and speech at Wembley prior to a friendly with England.

Duff was also working with Shelbourne’s Under-17s during this time and the nomadic nature of his early education as coach fed the suggestion that the Dubliner would quickly get restless.

joey-obrien-during-the-game Shels assistant manager Joey O'Brien. Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

Sixteen games in and Shels could end up in fifth spot with a fourth victory on the spin tomorrow night.

“Listen, he’s outstanding,” O’Brien added. “The sessions as a coach, his work ethic, it’s an obsession and that’s what I want to be a part of and that’s why I left [Shamrock Rovers] really.

“I stopped playing because I wanted to be a part of that, I wanted to learn in the environment and I wanted to improve myself as a coach. Yeah, he’s as good as anything I’ve worked with.

Without a doubt, he’s first class. I can’t speak highly enough of him. I don’t really like talking like this about him because it sounds as if ‘yeah, he’s going to say that because he gave him a job’. Look it, he’s outstanding,” the former Premier League defender and Ireland international added.

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“The work he puts in, I think that’s probably the biggest thing, one thing for me, is the work ethic he has, and to come in and take a job like this where we are as a club, coming up from the First Division, assembling a completely new squad with probably the lowest budget in the league. Outstanding.”

O’Brien has been the man on the touchline for the previous three victories and one joke doing the rounds is that he could be the first No.2 to win the manager of the month award.

“No, listen, he (Duff) is the main man, it’s an easy part for me to be up shouting, what I’m normally doing anyway. Look, everything is in place with the lead up to the week, the lads see it all on the training pitch, it’s me for two hours that he’s not around but everything is in place that the lads want.

You’ve probably spoken to me a long time, we probably have similarities but to be honest I didn’t know the manager. I would have played against him and been involved in a few Ireland squads around him, but not had any real deep footballing conversations,” O’Brien explained.

“Even when he was up at Rovers at the time, I wouldn’t have been anything really really close with him. It’s a really good relationship and obviously getting to know someone, and also working with someone, it’s probably a good thing really. You throw yourself into it.

“As I said, touching back on it, his work ethic makes you work harder. I think that’s what it is. It’s reflected in the lads as well. They see how hard he works and the players want to do that as well.”

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