Report: Former Celtic coach Damien Duff leading contender for first managerial job

By Euan Davidson

October 26, 2021

Much-loved former Celtic coach Damien Duff, once a dark horse to replace Neil Lennon, is a leading contender for the Shelbourne gig, according to a report.

Duff, a former Premier League superstar for Blackburn Rovers, Chelsea and Newcastle United, has made excellent progress as a coach. He worked with the Celtic Academy, then with Neil Lennon in 19-20, before taking up a role with the FAI.

He left his role with Ireland in February 2021 [Irish Mirror], but now is reportedly on the cusp of his first senior management role.

The Irish Mirror reports that the job at Tolka Park may be available, after Ian Morris stepped down as Shelbourne manager.

The Shels were only recently promoted back into the top-flight. Theirs has been a topsy-turvy recent history. From having conquered Hajduk Split in UEFA Cup qualifying [Irish Times], Shelbourne went through some serious financial difficulty [Irish Times].

Now though, with top-flight football to look forward to, but a vacancy in the dugout, it could be a fantastic time for Damien Duff to progress.

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Celtic youngster Barry Coffey, now on loan at Cork City, described Damien Duff in glowing terms. The midfielder said there was “untold” learning from Duff, and that he was a “massive influence” on his young career.

Damien Duff has all the tools to be a top-class manager

At 42, you’d have thought it was about time Duff got a managerial gig.

A hugely respected coach at Celtic, Duff is credited with some of the better attacking moments of Neil Lennon’s second spell at the club. Although Lennon’s return won’t be altogether looked back on fondly, there was some very decent attacking play in 19-20. Celtic romped to another title, and secured big European wins.

Duff was a key part of that. He’s said it was his “dream job”, the best year and a half of his sporting life [Celtic FC]. However, with a young family in Ireland, it was difficult to manage the personal and the professional.

Photo By Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile via Getty Images

At a club like Shelbourne in Dublin, that surely won’t be an issue. It’s a great opportunity, too. With the Shels back in the top-flight, saving the Tolka Park side from relegation in style would be a significant feather in Duff’s cap.

It’d also be compelling viewing for Celtic supporters. Would Duff be able to implement an attacking, entertaining brand of football that reflects his playing career? Would it be a wild departure from his work as a coach under Neil Lennon?

In any case, he looks like a very decent option for the recently-promoted side.

Read more: Worrying report on Celtic duo Liam Shaw and Osaze Urhoghide must be put into context