Damien Duff: 'Maybe in the last couple of years when we beat Bohs away we’re having a party and organising Dawson Street'


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Ronan MacNamara reports from Dalymount Park

A first Premier Division win away at Dalymount Park since 2013 wasn’t reason enough for Shelbourne to go out and enjoy the delicacies of any Dawson Street taverns after they eased by Bohemians on Friday night.

A Will Jarvis penalty and a splendid Gavin Molloy header in the last ten minutes of the game saw Shelbourne earn their fourth successive league win of the season which kept them at the summit after five games.

It’s the Reds who will have the bragging rights in North Dublin until the sides meet again in Tolka, but manager Damien Duff insists any celebrations will be left to the fans as his team focus on another battle with St Patrick’s Athletic in Inchicore next week.

“The most pleasing thing is that we went in and had a woo-hoo and high five but it felt like job done and let's move on,” Duff said after his side’s 0-2 win.

“Maybe in the last couple of years when we beat Bohs away we’re having a party and organising Dawson Street. That’s pleasing. I said it to them afterwards, yeah we’ve won but let's move on. That’s brilliant for me.”

After an opening night draw away to new boys Waterford at the RSC, Shels have been the form side in the league, picking up thirteen points from fifteen, conceding just two goals and picking up three straight clean sheets.

Duff played an integral part in Jose Mourinho’s title winning Chelsea side who conceded just 15 league goals in the 2004-05 season but admitted he isn’t trying to instil some old habits from that era into his players.

“I don’t try to be anyone. Being animated on the sideline is just me. I probably do turn into something when I cross the white line. I was speaking to Joe about it. That’s me and my passion. I’m honest with the players. I give them everything 24/7, hugs, kisses, kicks up the arse, nights out. They get the full package. Maybe that goes a long way to getting their buy-in.

“We can be as organised as we want and I’d like to think we are. People can say it's defensive but I call it organised. There’s a big difference. I’ve been called a lot worse, in the Premier League anyway, especially at St James’ Park when I was a player. I’ve heard worse.

“You can set teams up all you want, your structure and how you press but it’s getting lads to buy in and do it for each other. The most pleasing thing is getting the likes of Will and Liam, unbelievable players in the league, working hard and getting their buy-in.”

The Drumcondra outfit are yet to drop points from a winning position and three 1-0 wins on the bounce is a good habit to have.

“It's maybe the sign of a good team. First half tonight, I thought we were very good, as good as we've been here at Dalymount without having that quick killer edge but I always thought we felt dangerous, we looked dangerous.

“Second half, I don't think we came out particularly quick. They were always going to be a little bit better than they were in the first. By the end of the game, you think this might peter out into a dour draw. But you always have to have belief and hope with the changes that we made -- Boyd won the peno, having Burt and Jarvis still on the pitch, they might nick something.

“I think we deserved it. I think we were the more dangerous team throughout the night.”

There have been whispers in some quarters that Shelbourne could mount an unlikely title charge after two years of progression that saw them reach the FAI Cup final in 2022 and qualify for Europe last season.

Shelbourne have already beaten Shamrock Rovers for the first time since 2005 and entered the Dalymount tie at the top of the league for the first time since 2006.

Duff wasn’t drawn on any potential title talk, rather every little milestone is another box ticked.

“That's what I just said over there - ticking them off. Darren asked yesterday if it was an added pressure. No. We hadn't beaten Rovers in 19,20. That wasn't an added pressure. We put enough pressure on ourselves. So I just think it's brilliant for the club. I think if you asked the Shels fans, their number one derby probably would be coming here. I'm so pleased for them as well as the players.”

While the game was in the balance at 0-0, substitute Sean Boyd looked to have struck Cian Byrne with an elbow off the ball. The striker had only just returned from suspension for a strike to the face on the opening night.

“I actually didn't [see it]. I just saw Cian Byrne on the floor. It sounds like I'm copping out. I don't think, I don't know, I'd have to look at it.

“What age is Boydy, is he 25? A f*****' work in progress? F*****' hell,” joked Duff about Boyd losing a few years to injury.

“And suspensions. Effectively, he's still 16. And that is the way I treat him, he won't lie to you, that is the way I treat him. Sean tonight, he's come on, he's impacted the game, let's backlines know he's there, but I have to say, all round, he was probably a bit off his game.

“He's been out for a month, coming back from two serious injuries, so the scary thing with Sean is there's so much more to come. So yeah, he impacted the game - there's nothing more you can ask.”

On issues outside of football, Duff and the Shelbourne staff wore pins portraying the Irish and Palestine flags.

“Ah listen, I’m not a politician but we all know what’s going on. If you want to get a real passionate speech about it, Joey O’Brien wears a Palestinian t-shirts most days. The staff are all wearing them tonight to show solidarity.”