Tuesday, May 21, 2024

‘Something has been said. From the crowd’ – Damien Duff alleges Shelbourne fitness coach racially abused

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In the aftermath of a victory that extended his side’s lead at the top of the Premier Division table to five points, Duff revealed that the group was motivated by a shout from a home section in the direction of their Portuguese fitness coach Mauro Martins while he was putting the visitors through their pre-match warm-up.

Duff didn’t hear the offending comment and does not know if the matter will be taken up by the authorities.

That will depend on whether it features in the delegate’s post-match report – and the club will have the scope to offer input if Martins wants the matter to go further. It’s understood the shout came from an underage fan and not from an adult.

Daniel McDonnell and Aidan Fitzmaurice review Friday night’s League of Ireland action as Damien Duff’s Shelbourne extended their lead at the top of the table and managerless Bohemians enjoyed a big win over Derry City

Either way, Duff feels that the acceptable line of abuse was crossed, with the Shels boss also claiming that his family members were on the receiving end of comments during last week’s derby success over Bohemians at Dalymount Park.

“Last week, my mam, my dad and my brothers are getting abused,” said Duff, “Tonight, Mauro, our fitness coach, not just one of the best in the league but one of the best in the world, from Portugal, he got racially abused. That’s why it’s a special night, not for the club really but for him.. I’ll leave it with whoever the relevant people are.

“I don’t know who you speak to in this country but, at the end of the day, in a strange way, I thank the fans because it gave us an extra incentive to go and do it for Mauro because we’re a family. We’re not a squad, we’re not a football club, we’re a family and the lads were desperate to go on and get the win for Mauro.

“Something has been said. From the crowd. You asked me ‘Do I take the abuse?’ It’s part and parcel of football. I probably got abuse off my own fans at times,” he added, with reference to his time at Newcastle. “But sometimes it can go a bit too far.”

Duff praised the individual brilliance of Hull loanee Will Jarvis who bagged the second half brace that gave Shels their fifth win on the trot.

He sought to dismiss talk of a title challenge because the season is only six games only, but stressed that his group will embrace the pressure.

“Will is outrageously good, probably a surprise package last year because no one knew about him. Of course they know about him now because he’s such a wonderful way of dribbling, the distances that are different to what defenders are used to – a left footer on the left – whereas he (Jarvis) dribbles with his right, it’s more thinking time for him and more distance for the defender to travel,” said Duff, with a nod to the 21-year-old who scored both of his goals by cutting inside.

“He’s so laid back and you could say the two goals were like he was down the park with his mates. There wasn’t great pace on them but he just picked his corner. I’m having a giggle, he makes me laugh because he’s just a bit different.

“It’s a nice position we’re in but it’s absolutely irrelevant. How many games have we played? Six?

“It’s obviously a pressure, it’s a wonderful pressure, that’s why I got back involved in football to have pressure. If I don’t have pressure in my life, sorry to keep reiterating the word, life’s not so good. I’ve obviously tasted it as a player and as a coach over at Celtic being at the top end challenging for trophies, I’ve also tasted three relegations in the Premier League which I probably played a big part in as well, especially Newcastle, I don’t think they’ve ever forgiven me.

“So it’s a pressure, it’s a different pressure, but it’s a brilliant pressure. Certainly our lads two years ago wouldn’t be in this position, and they wouldn’t have embraced the pressure, ie, the cup final (a heavy 2022 defeat to Derry City). But this season they’re different animals and I’d like to think a bit more excited by pressure. If I had €100 for every time I said pressure, I’d be having a good night.”

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