Damien Duff: ‘I can't see how the attendances might fall off again’

Shelbourne boss Damien Duff

Shelbourne boss Damien Duff Credit: Martin Doherty (ETPhotos)

Shelbourne boss Damien Duff is hopeful that the League of Ireland can continue to grow in the coming years. 

Both Dublin Derbies due to take place in the capital on Friday (St Patrick's Athletic v Bohemians & Shelbourne v Shamrock Rovers) have been sold out since early this week. 

And a record crowd is set to descend on Tolka Park for Shelbourne’s clash against champions Shamrock Rovers.

The capacity at Tolka Park has increased to just just under 4,700 this season - a slight increase from last year’s tally of 4,450. 

All general sale tickets for Friday’s game sold out on Tuesday, with a limited number of season tickets still on sale for the season.

“I think they're competitive and good games in the League of Ireland,” Duff said.

"Again, you know the League better than me, what was the quality like 20 years ago? I was a football snob 20 years ago but I'm not now. All I can speak about is recent history. 

“It has grown tenfold but the most important thing is I can only see it growing, with help. I can't see how the attendances might fall off again.”

On his journey from being a self-confessed ‘football snob’ to League of Ireland advocate, Duff explained: “I'd have OCD so all I see is what's in front of me. 

“I would have to say that when I was in England it would always have been - not that I would have watched the games - Shelbourne because they were the team in the early 2000s winning things so it was 'oh Shelbourne must be a big club'. 

“Even when I went to Scotland, I lost touch with watching the Premier League. 

“I'd go weeks on end without seeing a Premier League match because I was so focused on the Scottish League. 

“I'm a manager in the League of Ireland and it's what I see in front of me. I'm an Irishman and I'm proud of everything around me. 

“The success of the Irish team going forward is going to rely on how successful and how good the League of Ireland is and how successful and strong the academies are.

“I am very passionate about it. I know people are saying I’m battering the FAI again. Maybe for a lot of people in the FAI, not all, it’s a job to them. This isn’t a job to me. It’s my passion. 

“That’s what I was put on this earth for – football, football, football (clicks fingers). 

“If I didn’t have the league right now, I wouldn't have a focus in my life. If you don’t have focus on your life, life ain't good.”