Saturday, July 13, 2024

Damien Duff reveals why he’d like to see FAI HQ at Abbotstown ‘levelled’

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DAMIEN DUFF has called for Abbotstown to be levelled – as the FAI’s search for a new Ireland manager finally ended.

Heimir Hallgrimsson was yesterday confirmed as the shock successor to Stephen Kenny – ending a near eight-month recruitment process.

Shelbourne Manager Damien Duff isn't a fan of the FAI HQ building

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Shelbourne Manager Damien Duff isn’t a fan of the FAI HQ building
The FAI's office were first opened in 2007

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The FAI’s office were first opened in 2007

Hallgrimsson was joint boss of Iceland when they knocked out England to reach the Euro 2016 quarter-finals and was solely in charge as he steered them to their first World Cup two years later.

More recently, he was manager of Jamaica, leading them to the semi-finals of the CONCACAF Nations League, losing to eventual winners USA in extra-time following a stoppage-time equaliser.

He stepped down last week after a disappointing Copa America campaign which saw them lose all three group games.

Duff was speaking before confirmation of his appointment was made, in response to a question as to whether Irish football needed a reset.

The ex-Ireland star said: “I would – how would I word it – raze Abbotstown to the ground because it’s the most uninviting, unenthusiastic work place, not in world football but in the world.

“The fact you’re laughing shows I’m not far off the f***ing mark.

“I used to dread going in there once a month. So I’d level it.”

Duff – who was briefly on Kenny’s coaching staff – will lead Shelbourne into European competition for the first time in 18 years when they host St Joseph’s of Gibraltar in the Conference League at Tolka Park this evening.

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But he admitted that he had been struck by the allegations of historical abuse of female players in Irish football aired in print and on TV over the weekend.

And he stopped short of expressing confidence that the FAI was a changed organisation from when that was said to have occurred in the 1990s.

He said: “I watched it with my wife. Listen, I’m not going to get into it deep. All I will say is I probably gripped my children tighter since then.

“I’ve thought about the ladies, the women in the programme a lot since then, every day.

“They are absolute heroines for coming out and speaking. I thought there were some powerful people on the show, the women that is. Nobody else outside of that.

“But as for the association that was involved and the men involved I’ve no comment on them. I’ll let somebody else judge them.

“I would like to think stuff like that didn’t happen back then, but it did.

“I would like to think that the Association is in a wonderful, wonderful place now in regard to everything: football, finances, safeguarding, but, here, there are always doubts when it comes to the FAI.”

Former dentist Hallgrímsson, 57, has been given a contract until the end of the 2026 World Cup campaign.

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