Damien Duff tired of Ireland manager saga as Shelbourne await punishment for smoke bomb incident

Leaders Shelbourne host Bohs in a sold-out Dublin derby at Tolka but Reds boss braced for potential ban on travelling Shels fans for Galway fixture

At a typically robust Damien Duff briefing, when the Shelbourne manager embraced being top of the league in advance of Bohemians’ visit to Tolka Park on Friday, the Ireland managerial search got another airing.

In response, Duff captured the nation’s mood.

“It’s had enough air time for me.”

It’s now 140 days since the Stephen Kenny era ended. The FAI recently indicated that an unveiling of his successor would happen by this Friday.


But fresh reports linking Anthony Barry to the position, despite the 37-year-old’s contractual obligations to Bayern Munich until June, when Barry then links up with Portugal for the Euros, prompted Duff to highlight how damaging the protracted recruitment process is for Irish football.

“Anthony Barry sounds amazing, I’d love to see him work. He looks an amazing coach, looks a proper fellah. So, if it is Anthony, great, I wish him luck. If it is John [O’Shea], great, I wish him luck.

“But, here, outside of that, roll on the women’s [international] tonight. The League of Ireland is the shining light of Irish football. You’d say the women are on a par with it. Can’t wait to watch that game tonight.

“I am not copping out of your question. I’m just like . . .”

Duff exhaled for what seemed like 140 days.

“You probably think it’s a contradiction, but I hate talking, I hate having needless conversations,” he continued. “I am sure all of you have had needless conversations [about the Ireland job], it just wastes your energy. It’s a waste of pens and paper, wastes a good League of Ireland story for some shite.

“That’s why my face dropped when you ask me, I don’t like talking. Ask my wife when I go home, I don’t like talking. So, that would really sum it up, because there is nothing to talk about with them.”

On the home front, the League of Ireland will sanction Shelbourne on Wednesday after a smoke bomb, thrown from their supporters’ section at Weavers Park in Drogheda last Friday, struck linesman Dermot Broughton. A potential ban on Shelbourne fans travelling to away games was addressed.

“We’ll take our medicine when it comes,” said Duff. “You hear maybe is it the Galway game [that fans will not be allowed to attend]. It’s never nice not having your fans with you but sometimes in life you have to do stuff on your own.”

Duff has invited the culprit, who could be a child, to attend a Shelbourne training session so he could turn the incident into a teaching moment for the league’s increasingly younger fan base.

“I’ve obviously calmed down. It was a horrible sight. [On Friday] I was angry and emotional and probably quick to slaughter the person. At the same time I’m keen to help as well. You hear rumours that it was a young boy or whatever, young enough that they shouldn’t have been there.

“I’m sure he’s grossly embarrassed and gone underground but you can’t just leave him be as well. When I said come down to the training ground, it wasn’t to get him in a headlock or anything. No, just have a chat. I’m sure the person has learned. [We are] Quick to vilify and by my tone you would have got that, but I want to help as well.”

Duff added: “I have made loads of mistakes in my life. I’m certainly no angel. I was pointing the finger on Friday night but I want to help.

“If you don’t feel safe you’re not going to want to go to the game. It has to stop. Granted we’re in the news and it’s our problem at the minute, it’s a Shelbourne problem. But I have to say, and I don’t think anyone can argue, it’s a league problem.

“It’s rife around the league. Go back over LOITV at the weekend and Alex Nolan scored a beautiful goal at Richmond Park and nearly got his head took off by a vape.

“If you think I’m lying, go look at it. Again I’ve got the footage, Weaver’s Park and a big bottle half full of God knows what at the weekend, coming in from the home stand. I’m not trying to drag down everyone with me but it’s a league problem and it needs to be sorted sooner rather than later.”

These ongoing concerns cannot overshadow Shels’ storming start to the season, gathering 21 points from a possible 27, as they host struggling neighbours Bohs at a sold out Tolka Park on Friday, where the capacity increases this month from 4,700 to 5,700.

Gavin Cummiskey

Gavin Cummiskey

Gavin Cummiskey is The Irish Times' Soccer Correspondent