As the League of Ireland silly season draws to a close, Shelbourne manager Damien Duff is coming to terms with the financial realities of managing in the League of Ireland. After rumoured foreign investment never arrived, Duff struggled to attract quality experienced players to Tolka Park this offseason, as the competition at the top of the table bolster up their squads before the start of the season.
Shelbourne kickoff their League of Ireland campaign on the 17th of February when they welcome Drogheda to Tolka Park. Duff has had a busy winter preparing for the occasion, recruiting seven new players and signing Derry loanee Mattie Smith permanently. However, when speaking at the launch of the new League of Ireland season last Wednesday, he told us his ambitions were impacted by a lack of cash.
Have I gone and chatted to these players? Yeah. Did they want to come to us? Yeah. But when money is spoken I tap out.
If the investment came in I would’ve probably been able to quadruple my budget but it didn't.You look at Derry, Pats, Rovers, any big player comes available they're in straight away. The top two, top three probably have quadruple our budget but it doesn't phase me whatsoever.
Usually a 27, 28, 29 year old with a lot of experience in the league that has a bit of quality costs 1200 quid a week, so yeah I might be able to get one of them, two of them, three of them but like I said, a lot of the teams above can keep forking out, I can't, your 20,21 year olds its not that I want a load of kids in who don't answer back, your title winners with medals and experience cost too much money. At the same time young kids they've improved to no end and they're exciting.
In saying all this Duff hasn't had a quiet winter, recruiting seven new players, and signing Derry loanee Mattie Smith. Duff's marquee signing Paddy Barrett comes over from St. Pats, where he was a team stalwart for their FAI Cup final win in 2021. Barrett is one of the most decorated players in the League, winning two Premier Divisions with Dundalk, a first division with Waterford as well a host of cups across his career. While Duff was positive about signing the experienced league man, he said he simply didn't have the money to keep signing experienced players, with the rest of his signings all aged under 25.
Usually a 27, 28, 29 year old with a lot of experience in the league that has a bit of quality costs 1200 quid a week, so yeah I might be able to get one of them, two of them, three of them but like I said a lot of the teams above can keep forking out, I can't, your 20,21 year olds its not that I want a load of kids in who don't answer back, your title winners with medals and experience cost too much money. At the same time young kids they've improved to no end and they're exciting and hopefully one day they'll be the lads 26, 27 demanding these wages with medals under their belt.
Speaking about his hopes for the season ahead and responding to criticism of Shelbournes performances last season, Duff was blunt and at times harsh in his assessment of those downfalls. But felt he knew what he was doing and that barring his financial issues he can continue to aspire towards European qualification.
Yeah its been discussed, again on paper wise and budget wise do we have a right to be talking about it (Europe)? No. Do we have a right to be talking about cup finals? No. But we do talk about Europe and cup finals? Yeah. There’s no point in doing it otherwise.
We gave away too many set piece goals, we scored nine penalties are you gonna get nine penalties again? Lads not knowing their jobs no matter how many times you tell them. Did we kick the ball well enough, when thats what were all about? No. Did we counter attack well enough? No. Did we deal with the big occasions well enough? No.
I can’t say I made 101 mistakes last year but I think I just know everyone and everything inside and out now.
The thing that gives me the most hope is out of the ten teams last year that made the most improvement over 36 league games and 4 or 5 cup games, without a doubt I think was us from game 1 - 36.
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