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Damien Duff's U20 World Cup 'Golden Goal' Is Criminally Underrated

Damien Duff's U20 World Cup 'Golden Goal' Is Criminally Underrated
By Balls Team
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Ireland's heroes of Malaysia will be honoured tonight at the Aviva. Here's a look back at one of the standout moments from that tournament from an Ireland perspective. This article was originally written by Mikey Traynor

Very rarely do we have the chance to celebrate a top three finish for an Irish side at an international tournament at any level, but back in 1997 Brian Kerr lead a team of talented youngsters to Malaysia where they achieved just that.

Our 3rd place finish at the 1997 World Youth Championships (since re branded as the U20 World Cup) is one of the best achievements in Irish football, and 20 years on, the squad met up in Dublin to reminisce on that incredible summer in Malaysia.

RTÉ were on hand to interview some of the stars of that team, but it was Brian Kerr's shout for moment of the tournament that stood out to us.

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Rather than beating Spain in the quarters, or defeating Ghana in the third-place playoff, Kerr singled out Damien Duff's golden goal against Morocco in the last 16 as the best moment for the Irish during that tournament.

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Not just for the jubilation it produced, but for the quality that was on show.

Probably Damien's goal against Morocco, the golden goal, because of the build-up, the skill level in the midfield, the passing between Alan Kirby and Micky Cummins and Thomas Morgan played the final ball to Damien.

He just showed his brilliance that he went on to show for many many years afterwards with his various clubs and of course the Irish senior international team.

Kerr is not wrong. Having sourced an extended clip via YouTube with extended replays, it really is one of the most satisfying goals we've ever scored.

A lovely ball played with purpose from left-back after some quick passing in the middle, before Duffer absolutely ruins his marker with a nutmeg and shows the composure of a seasoned striker to slot the ball into the bottom corner.

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The perfect blend of teamwork and individual brilliance.

For such a significant moment, and such a fundamentally good goal, it seems to us as though it doesn't get the credit it deserves.

When you think of great goals scored by Irish players down the years, Whelan against the USSR, Robbie in Amsterdam Arena, Ray Houghton at Giant's Stadium will always come to mind, but Duffer's moment in Malaysia deserves to be up there in the discussion.

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Duff had started that game. He would have been wrecked by the final whistle of normal time, but he still had enough about him to put his marker on toast and finish with aplomb. Maybe there are people who harp on about it all the time, but we haven't heard them, and considering that the U20 squad were in the middle of that historic tournament 20 years ago, we just wanted to show some love.

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