Saturday 1 October 2016

Ireland legend Damien Duff poised to sign for Shamrock Rovers

John Fallon

Published 06/07/2015 | 02:30

Damien Duff is poised to sign for Shamrock Rovers
Damien Duff is poised to sign for Shamrock Rovers
Damien Duff is planning to swap Melbourne for Tallaght (Ashley Feder/Getty Images)

Shamrock Rovers are on the verge of announcing the signing of former Ireland international Damien Duff.

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The 100-times capped winger had vowed to finish his decorated playing career in the League of Ireland, with the Hoops always the likely destination for his swansong.

St Patrick's Athletic provided the main competition to Rovers but the 36-year-old has always insisted that monetary gain wasn't his motivation in the selection process.

"As for the money thing, I'm not in it for the money," he stressed. "It's for the joy of playing the game."

Budgetary restrictions had constantly been cited by Rovers boss Pat Fenlon as a likely impediment to recruiting the two-time Premier League winner once Duff revealed in March his definitive plan to seek an Irish club when the transfer window opened in July.

Although Rovers wouldn't comment on Duff's imminent signing last night, Fenlon will face questions on the topic today when the club hosts a pre-arranged press conference for their Europa League first-round second-leg tie against Progrès Niederkorn.

Rovers boss Pat Fenlon
Rovers boss Pat Fenlon

The teams played out a scoreless draw in last week's first leg in Luxembourg.

Should Rovers prevail at Tallaght Stadium tomorrow and reach the second qualifying round, they'll be guaranteed to bank at least €410,000 from their first season back on the European stage in two years.

It would only be in the case they reach the third round that Duff could aid their Europa League run.

The Ballyboden man's A-League career was brought to a premature halt in February after suffering a serious ankle injury and he recently admitted that early August was his estimated return date.

Ireland team doctor Alan Byrne has been helping Duff regain his fitness since the player returned to his homeland but Rovers fans will have to wait a few more weeks to see one of the greatest players of his generation lining out in the green and white hoops.

Added to Stephen McPhail and Keith Fahey, Duff will become the third former Ireland international in Fenlon's squad, providing a welcome boost for Rovers' quest of bridging the 10-point buffer leaders and champions Dundalk enjoy over the third-placed side with 15 games left.

Duff has kept busy since setting up home again for him and his family in Wicklow.

For the past two weeks, he's been amongst 28 pupils, including former Ireland pals Andy Keogh and Stephen Hunt, undertaking their UEFA B coaching license course at the AUL complex.

Part of his syllabus required him to attend the recent game between St Patrick's Athletic and Longford Town at Inchicore.

He had the unenviable task of reporting back on Longford's attacking play despite them losing 3-0.

"My ma was upset, she thought I was signing for Pat's and I hadn't told her," joked Duff last week about his mother, Mary, who hails from a southside area of Dublin known as a Rovers stronghold. "We were obviously just there to analyse the game."

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