Last night on Soccer Republic Damien Duff skyped in from Melbourne. He told the lads he was returning to Ireland in April and would be “looking for a job.” You can see it here. Let’s look at his likely landing spots in the League of Ireland.
Duff has been a regular visitor to the Carlisle Grounds over the years so naturally most will speculate that Bray are frontrunners. Although Bray would have been his closest club, most of the visits occurred when Pat Devlin was manager/all-encompassing-leader in Bray. Devlin also happened to be Duff’s agent. If Duff wanted a move to Bray, would Devlin persuade him to go elsewhere?
Pat Devlin is now Director of Football at UCD. Playing in Belfield would also likely be handy for Duff. To balance that, UCD have zero budget to spend on players and he’d be playing in the First Division. If Duff was happy with the standard, could Devlin arrange for a sponsor for Duff’s new career at UCD?
The biggest name in Irish football will always be linked with any returning internationals. Their midfield already has Keith Fahey and Stephen McPhail and perhaps Duff will look to join his former international team mates. In the past Duff has joking ruled out a move to Rovers, but it wouldn’t surprise anyone to see Duff sign with the Hoops
The league’s newest club has started well with 2 wins from 2 and a big crowd at their home opener on Friday. They’ve said they would be remaining amateur for the first year in the league but manager Eddie Gormley has always insisted that money isn’t an issue. Could they really make a splash with the local community by bringing an Irish hero home?
St Patrick’s Athletic
Manager Liam Buckley has Pats playing some of the nicest football in the league. With Keith Fahey leaving in the off-season, there’s space for a marquee signing at Richmond Park too. Would chairman Garret Kelleher be persuaded to open up the budget to secure one of Ireland’s best ever players?
If Duff wants to move to one of the northside clubs, he’ll be doing so knowing he won’t get paid a lot. While the two clubs would love to have him on board, they won’t have much to offer him other than history.
Would Duff be interested in playing outside the pale? Cork City have Liam Miller and Colin Healy and maybe Duff would like to join them? If he’s looking to play in front of the league’s biggest crowds, Cork will be on his radar.
What of the champions? Stephen Kenny could sell Duff on the prospect of Champions League qualifiers in July. With Duff’s age and recent injury troubles, he’s unlikely to be too enamoured by Oriel’s plastic pitch so we’ll put them down as an outsider.
Wherever Damien Duff decides to go, he's sure to bring attention with him. Even at 36, it will be a coup for any SSE Airtricity League side.
Featured image; Matt Browne/Sportsfile