MICHAEL DUFFY believes the personal accolades he’s won with Dundalk this season will be made all the sweeter once he’s got his first League of Ireland winners’ medal draped around his neck.
The winger has enjoyed an outstanding season and has been rewarded with two SWAI Player of the Month awards for May and September and he’s now on the brink of winning the SSE Airtricity Premier Division title in his second season with the Lilywhites.
Victory over an out-of-sorts Derry City at Oriel Park tonight all but guarantees a fourth league title in five seasons for Stephen Kenny’s men as they would move 12 points clear of Cork City with four games to go while their goal-difference is effectively an extra point.
And after a significant win over Cork at Turner’s Cross on Friday night, Duffy is hoping the Lilywhites can ‘get the job done’ tonight so they can start planning for Friday’s FAI Cup semi-final against UCD.
“It’s a huge week for us,” said the Galliagh man. “We knew this week would be the main week of the season and it’s obviously important to keep the performance levels high.
“We beat Cork but we need to finish it off and try get the job done before we go into the cup match on Friday which is massive.
It was disappointing last year, not winning the league and FAI Cup, so I’ll be looking to make amends for that too.Michael Duffy
“It’s been a brilliant year for me personally and if we were to win the league it would mean far more to me than having those player of the month awards or the goals and the assists. I’d have something to show for it then. It’s been a great year for me and I hope I can finish it off well.”
Duffy thoroughly enjoyed the celebrations with the travelling support in Cork on Friday night and with a party atmosphere expected at Oriel Park tonight, the champagne will be flowing should the home side clinch the win.
However, Duffy, who is hoping for his first call-up to the Republic of Ireland squad for the Nations Cup games next month, won’t be getting overly excited until Dundalk’s name is officially on the trophy.
“It’s exciting,” enthused Duffy. “Down at Cork was massive and we haven’t won there in ages. It was such an important game and a massive night for us. We’re just hoping to get the job done now. If we win against Derry our goal difference is huge but we won’t be saying we’re league champions until it’s official.”
The former Celtic and Dundee winger has experienced the heartache of losing FAI Cup Finals twice, with Derry in 2014, and Dundalk in 2017. And while he’s careful not to overlook the challenge of First Division champions, UCD in Friday’s semi-final, he’s desperate to make amends for the disappointment of previous campaigns.
“It was disappointing last year, not winning the league and FAI Cup, so I’ll be looking to make amends for that too.”
While Derry City’s fruitless league campaign is petering out with four games to go, three ex-Candy Stripes have their eye on completing a memorable League and Cup ‘double’ with Patrick McEleney and Dean Jarvis also expected to be involved tonight.
Dundalk will be huge favourites for the win, especially having cruised to a 4-0 at Brandywell when the teams last met in June. However, despite Derry’s recent run of poor results, Duffy expects a difficult game from his hometown club.
“Every time we’ve played Derry they’ve given us a tough game. The last time at Oriel Park we drew 2-2 so it’s all or nothing for Derry to try and get back on track. It will be a hard game. I’d expect a reaction from them.”