Irish Daily Mail

DUFFY IS SENSING SPIRIT IN DUNDALK

- By PHILIP QUINN

DUNDALK’S Michael Duffy can sniff a famous Euro upset against Vitesse Arnhem in Tallaght tonight.

That’s because the flying winger, pushing hard for a World Cup call-up under Stephen Kenny later this month, has his sense of smell back after a recent bout of Covid-19.

‘I was sort of in denial the first few days and got another test as I thought it was just a false positive and I felt fine, but I got another positive back from that test,’ he revealed yesterday.

‘The next day, when I had my breakfast there was just no taste at all, and then eventually my smell went. It was a weird feeling, wasn’t nice, and it took a few days to get it back. Physically, I was OK.’

Even so Duffy, 27, was touch and go to play in the first leg last Thursday which finished 2-2, thanks to a brace of goals from Duffy’s fellow Derry native, Patrick McEleney, the second of which was a collector’s item.

‘The last month he’s been our best player and you need players like that in these games,’ said Duffy.

‘Whenever he has the ball you know he’s going to play a mad pass that nobody else could do.

‘We might only get one chance but it could be another moment of magic from him or someone else in the team. We believe we will get chances and hopefully we can take them.’

Dundalk skipper Andy Boyle firmly expects his team to bounce back from Sunday’s 4-1 home loss against St Pat’s which damaged the prospects of a Euro return via the league next season.

‘It probably shouldn’t be the way but players are more concentrat­ed when it comes to Europe,’ he said.

‘You know you’re playing against better players — we’re playing against a team that finished fourth in the Eredivisie — so you know you’re going to have to bring your own level up and probably try and drag other people with you.

‘We’ve had a lot of big nights. I don’t know how many of us are left from 2016 (Europa League group phase breakthrou­gh) but they’re nights you never forget.

‘Last year in the Europa League group phase was brilliant but without the fans it probably wasn’t the same experience for the club but now we’ve got the possibilit­y of some fans back.

‘We’ve sold out 1,500 tomorrow night and it’s about giving them something to shout about.’

Boyle is annoyed by Dundalk’s inconsiste­nt displays this term.

‘It’s no good playing well in Europe and then losing in the league because at the end of the day you need to get back into Europe, that’s the bread and butter of it, getting good results and pushing your way back up the table.

‘It’s well and good people saying we’ve got a squad of players that should be in or around Europe but as a group we’ve got to go and prove it.’

Manager Vinny Perth reckons his players will feel right at ‘home’ in Tallaght.

‘Over the years our away form has been better. People said that Oriel was an advantage to us but I don’t think that it was.

‘The pitch here is outstandin­g and the surface suits us. I’m reluctant to say it, but our players would prefer this pitch to the Aviva at times.

‘I keep saying to them in this Euro campaign it’s about somebody having that big moment. It was David (McMillan) at one stage, it was Will Patching who made the moment in Tallinn.

‘It was Patrick last week. Maybe it’s someone else’s turn,’ he continued.

‘We do need big moments to have a big run because, for me, they’re the most dangerous side I’ve come across. The speed and power of their attack is something.

‘I’m an attack-minded coach and we’re an attack-minded team so we won’t sit in, albeit they were very strong against us last week.

‘If anything, they (Vitesse) play narrow so we do think that there is space out wide.

Should Dundalk turn over Arnhem, it certainly won’t escape the notice of Ireland boss Kenny. As things stand, does Perth expect to see Dundalk players in the Ireland squad later this month?

‘I wouldn’t be at all surprised,’ he said. ‘I wouldn’t tell Stephen what to do but I won’t be surprised, I think there is a real chance of it.’ Dundalk v Vitesse Arnhem, Tallaght Stadium (8.0).

“We believe we will get chances”

“We prefer playing here to the Aviva”

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