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‘It’s non-stop. If I wasn’t in this job, I’d probably be having a two- or three-day party’ – Damien Duff

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Shelbourne boss Damien Duff following his side's disappointing 0-0 draw against UCD on Monday. Photo: Sportsfile

Shelbourne boss Damien Duff following his side's disappointing 0-0 draw against UCD on Monday. Photo: Sportsfile

Shelbourne boss Damien Duff following his side's disappointing 0-0 draw against UCD on Monday. Photo: Sportsfile

Damien Duff turns 43 today but he’s still experiencing new things in his life.

Monday’s scoreless draw with UCD in Belfield offered an unexpected education. “What did we learn from it? Away from football, never put a wheelbarrow on a sprinkler,” said Duff, with reference to the eight-minute delay in the second half created by unexpected waterworks.

The wheelbarrow did actually succeed in fixing the problem in the end.

“I’d say the most exciting bit was the sprinklers,” continued Duff, “It definitely was for my son (Woody). He was in the crowd.”

There wasn’t a huge amount to be enthused by otherwise, with the Dubliner’s new side still finding their way.

Last Friday’s success in Drogheda means he’s got a win on the board, but his side struggled to carry the momentum into their next away day, and they now face a pair of tricky home ties with Derry (Friday) and Dundalk (Friday week).

Duff did feel there was an overreaction in some quarters to his side’s opening night defeat at the hands of St Patrick’s Athletic, yet he felt that his team laboured and made life far too difficult for themselves against UCD.

“It’s a fairly good start,” he said, with a nod to the overall situation. “You can strip the bones out of it. I hear people saying it could have been five or six against St Pat’s (3-0 loss)...f***ing nonsense like.

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“On another night, we win that game. That game (UCD) was poor, we were masters of just confusing the game. We’d be a really structured team in our position and how we move the ball. One and two touch, dribble when you can. Whereas that was just chaos.

“If you can’t score after 10 or 12 minutes you stay calm. You keep working the ball and working the opposition. But everything just seemed complicated on the night.

“I don’t think legs-wise, they were tired. Maybe mentally. Because we were on them all the time, they were probably mentally fatigued.

“As I said to the lads, it’s not not getting the three points or just getting a point that I’m disappointed about. It’s the way we played.

“I said to them they’ve been absolutely amazing for what’s been maybe 10 or 11 weeks. And that was probably the first game where there has been a lack of quality. But, listen, it’s a point on the board and we’ll move on.”

Duff spent the day of the game watching Derry’s previous matches, and admits the hectic early season schedule has left room for little else.

“It’s non-stop,” he said. “You just get p***** off with yourself because you’re never off the laptop.

“It’s the way of the world. It’s my birthday this week. So if I wasn’t in this job, I’d probably be having a two- or three-day party. I was going to say bender, but I don’t drink much.

“I had the day off (Shels don’t train on Wednesdays normally) but when the schedule got changed, I brought us in. Listen, it’s a good focus, I’m really enjoying it.”

Meanwhile, his opposite number Andy Myler was left to reflect on the disappointment of missed chances in a tight affair. He was happy with how his team competed physically, acknowledging it was something they had spoken about in the off-season.

UCD are yet to score in three games, but have kept back-to-back clean sheets against Finn Harps and Shels.

“We know we have lots of good footballers but something we have to be careful of and mindful of is mixing it in games properly, and making sure we’re still in games and have the platform to go and win because there’s no point in us being miles too open, we’ll get picked off every week,” said Myler.

“We’ve to work on the elements we need to work on and that’s being defensively solid and knowing the quality we have in the side can win games from that platform.

“I’m pleased enough with the (Monday) performance. On another night you nick it but overall we played decent football.”

Elsewhere, Jack Byrne has spoken of how a message from Stephen Kenny on the eve of the season really lifted his spirits.

Byrne was outstanding in Shamrock Rovers’ 3-1 victory over Drogheda on Monday, with an superb early assist followed by a stunning goal.

He’s back enjoying his football after a disastrous stint at APOEL Nicosia which effectively made 2021 a write-off. The 25-year-old wants to play his way back into the Ireland picture but knows he has a bit to do. However, the contact from Kenny was welcomed.

“It was nice, it was genuine. I couldn’t explain the kind of lift that it gave me, but it gave me something,” said Byrne. “It was nice of him; he didn’t have to do it.”


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