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‘I’ve been around a long, long time and I realise that most people who say that don’t have a f**king clue’

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Shelbourne coach Joey O'Brien

Shelbourne coach Joey O'Brien

Shelbourne coach Joey O'Brien

As he prepares to offer his verdict on his first six months working with Damien Duff, Shels assistant Joey O'Brien clicks into self awareness mode.

"I don't really like talking like this about him because some of this is going to be in the paper and it sounds 'yeah he's going to say that because he gave him a job'" says O'Brien, imagining a sceptical reader.

But in the aftermath of a dramatic win over St Patrick's Athletic in Richmond Park on Friday, there was no sense that O'Brien was just trotting out answers that were expected of him. He doesn't have a reputation for that anyway.

The 36-year-old is a straight shooter and showered praise on Duff although it could be argued that it should be going the other way at the moment seeing as Shels have won three games with O'Brien on the sideline and their manager in the stands.

A touchline ban is the reason that O'Brien was talking to the media, but it allowed him to explain the impact of Duff on a Shels side that is clearly improving. Defeating the Saints side that knocked three past them on the opening night illustrates the point.

"Listen, he's outstanding," said O'Brien. "The sessions as a coach, his work ethic, it's an obsession 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.

"He's as good as anything I've worked with. Without a doubt, he's first class. To be honest, I didn't know the manager before," continued O'Brien, explaining the relationship is quite a new one.

"I would have played against him and been involved in a few Ireland squads around him, but not had any real deep footballing conversations. Even when he was up at Rovers at the time, I wouldn't have been really really close with him, so, obviously getting to know someone and working with them, you throw yourself into it

"As I said, 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."

Duff will be back on the bench for the visit of UCD to Tolka Park tonight, an opportunity for Shels to add to their impressive winning sequence.

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O'Brien says the group are learning on the job and there were plans to change elements of the weekend timetable after previously struggling to carry momentum from Friday to Monday.

It won't be for the lack of trying with O'Brien delivering a succinct response when it was put to him that a number of external observers were predicting that Duff would lose patience with the Shels challenge and walk away.

"I've been around a long, long time," he replied, "And I realise that most people who say that don't have a f**king clue."


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