Celtic great Pat Bonner extremely satisfied with Duffy's dominance of Kilmarnock today

By David Walton

December 13, 2020

Celtic great Pat Bonner was extremely pleased with the performance of centre-back Shane Duffy against Kilmarnock this afternoon.

Duffy has had a torrid time of it since joining Parkhead after making a series of calamitous errors in his first several months in Glasgow.

However, the Ireland international has managed to rise up from the ashes with Celtic’s recent mini-renaissance against Lille and Kilmarnock respectively. With Neil Lennon’s side starting to tick after two extremely promising performances, Duffy has been at the heart of both successes with two big individual displays.

And that hasn’t been lost on Bonner, who believes the on-loan Brighton man could use his goal against Killie as a huge building block.

Speaking on BBC Radio Scotland’s Sportsound program (13/12, 16:59), Bonner said: “The goal’s a bonus. He started off in his first game and got a goal up at Ross County. He scored again today with a good header on target – but that’s almost an element you would expect from Shane Duffy. But that’s not the part we’re looking at – it’s the other part.

“If he can build a partnership with Jullien, with Ajer playing in that right-back position, I think it just looks a bit more solid. Now he doesn’t have huge pace about him, so the front players in front of him have to do a job for him. But I think he also has to use his own experience, his own communication skills to almost manipulate people, which I think he’s doing.

“There will always be rash moments from Shane Duffy, that’s the kind of defender he is. When he was with Ireland earlier this season he was going for balls he shouldn’t have been going for. Today he was picking his moments.”

Time to get a settled back-line in place

Bonner is spot on. Duffy wasn’t looking to for every ball as he may have done back when he first joined the club. There was a maturity about him today to go along with the confidence picked up on Thursday night.

This was the kind of fixture he was actually brought in for. Nicke Kabamba caused Kris Ajer and Chris Jullien so many problems at Rugby Park back in August. Today he was anonymous against the partnership of Duffy and Jullien. That’s massive for Celtic fans who have struggled to see a settled, high-quality back-line in place all season.

Bonner’s also right in saying that his goal against Killie today was nothing more than a bonus. The truth is he needs to be dominant at the other end and make sure nothing gets past him. He did that wonderfully and even more efficiently than Thursday night.

Celtic defender Shane Duffy powers home a header vs Kilmarnock (Photo by Craig Williamson/SNS Group via Getty Images)

You couldn’t help but notice that Duffy seemed even more confident than just three days ago. Where he made a few errors with his passing against Lille as well as a terrible lack of awareness to give away a needless hand-ball none of that was present this afternoon. He didn’t make a single blot today, and that’s massive.

We all want this to work, and ensuring that we have a settled back-line will be key to that. This duo of Jullien and Duffy look like they could very well be a formidable partnership for the rest of the season – Lennon now simply has to go with it.

When Shane goes to bed this evening, he can rest safe in the knowledge that he’s put in another competent display. He needed this.

In other news, see who made our top and worst performers list from today’s 2-0 win over Killie.