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22nd Feb 2024

Damien Duff doesn’t mince his words on government’s €50m spend on Casement Park

Lee Costello

Damien Duff

“Will Casement Park bring through footballers?”

Former Republic of Ireland international Damien Duff doesn’t mince his words on the government’s decision to spend €50m on Casement Park.

The Irish government announced that they would be committing €50m to the Casement Park rebuild so it can host games in Euro 2028.

However, after the tournament is over, it is the GAA who will be the main beneficiaries of the stadium, as it will become Antrim’s official county grounds once again for Gaelic football and hurling.

Damien Duff doesn’t mince his words on governments €50m spend on Casement Park.

Speaking to the Irish media this week ahead of his side’s game against Shamrock Rovers, Duff was rather bemused by the decision to invest so much money into something that will only bring short term benefits for football in the country.

“Will Casement Park bring through footballers? Maybe in a roundabout way. Academies for me is where the future of Irish football is.

“Fifty million euro, how many games will it host? Four? Great. We’ll go to the toilet four times. I’d rather it be spent on academies.

“It’s not always black and white. Some people would prefer to spend it on stadiums. People get peed off because a lot of stuff comes down to common sense, and not a lot of people have that.”

Damien Duff

Damien Duff on how to improve the state of Irish football.

For the former Chelsea winger, it’s a no-brainer when discussing how the League of Ireland needs to improve, and how the overall state of the sport in the country can be elevated.

“Academy players, I’ll call them, are going away at 16 to Europe, 18 to England. It’s too late. They haven’t played enough football. That’s why near-on every footballer that goes comes back. If there are academy players going away, the onus is on academies to send away better players as the player going at 16 or 18 is too late to be polished up.

“(Shamrock) Rovers maybe do it semi well, they tie in with schools. You come back and train. Feeling the ball, feeling the ball, feeling the ball. But coaching can be better, facilities can be better. Can we make better players at eight, nine, ten, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16? Absolutely. There’s a plan and it doesn’t take 55 pages.

“Plans for me are about execution straight away. Time waits for no man. I took the 17s a couple of weeks ago. They might do two nights a week and one night in the gym. They might think “I train three days a week with Shels and I’m a footballer”. No you’re not. You’re light years behind.”

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