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Damien Duff returning to League of Ireland after agreeing coaching role at Shelbourne

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Damien Duff could be set for a new coaching role at Shelbourne FC.  Photo: Sam Barnes/Sportsfile

Damien Duff could be set for a new coaching role at Shelbourne FC. Photo: Sam Barnes/Sportsfile

SPORTSFILE

Damien Duff could be set for a new coaching role at Shelbourne FC. Photo: Sam Barnes/Sportsfile

DAMIEN DUFF is returning to the League of Ireland scene as head coach of Shelbourne’s national league Under-17 squad.

It is understood that the Dubliner – who quit Celtic last week to take up a position on Stephen Kenny’s Ireland senior backroom staff – has accepted the post after mulling over the offer for a number of days.

The Ireland centurion previously coached Shamrock Rovers’ Under-15 squad for two seasons before joining Celtic in January 2019 as assistant coach of their reserves.

Duff will reunite with two of his staff from Rovers, including Shels defender Luke Byrne.

They are due to commence training next Monday but are awaiting confirmation of fixtures due to ongoing discussions among clubs on formats around the senior campaign restarting on July 31.

The Reds underage teams, led by head of youth development Stephen Henderson, play their home games at the AUL Complex in Clonshaugh.

Duff (41) played 100 times for Ireland and won back-to-back Premier League winners’ medals in 2005 and 2006 under Jose Mourinho at Chelsea.

He retired in December 2015 following a short stint at Shamrock Rovers, the club that gave him his break in coaching.

During his time with the Hoops, his early-morning training sessions for youngsters became legendary, as did his approach to pushy parents. “There’s lot of work involved from setting up training sessions to dealing with pain-in-the-arse parents,” he said.

"I don't think it (interfering parents) helps kids; it gives them a false sense.”

Duff admits family reasons triggered his departure from Celtic, where he worked as assistant to Neil Lennon.

His fellow Irishman promoted him to the first-team shortly after he left Rovers in early 2019 to join the club’s reserve team staff.

Kenny announced the surprise inclusion of Duff on his backroom team when elevated to senior Ireland boss in April, outlining his admiration for the legend’s prowess on the training pitch. He has identified a concise role for Duff on his staff, which also includes Kenny’s former U-21 assistant Keith Andrews.

“There is no job in the world that would have taken me away from the role I was in,” Duff said of his Celtic exit last week.

“I’d love to be a brilliant coach one day, but I think it’s more important at the minute that I’m just a brilliant Dad, I guess.”

Duff will get straight to work at Shels, combing the project with his duties for the FAI.

Kenny’s side are due to begin their UEFA Nations League campaign in September with a double-header against Bulgaria and Finland, a month before they travel to Slovakia for the Euro 2021 play-off.

Alan Reynolds is also in line to job-share.

Having quit as Waterford boss last week, he has joined the backroom staff of champions Dundalk but is believed to be one of new Under-21 manager Jim Crawford’s coaches alongside fellow Deise man John O’Shea.

Online Editors