A phone call from Martin O’Neill was enough for Michael Duffy to commit to the Republic of Ireland but Dundalk fans will have to wait until the end of the season to see if their magnificent number seven intends on sticking around at Oriel Park.
Duffy has been in sensational form for the Lilywhites this year, scoring 11 goals and providing 20 assists. His contract runs out at the end of the season and speaking after the 2–1 defeat to Shamrock Rovers on Tuesday night he said he would deal with his club future when the curtain comes down on the current campaign.
“There’s been that many games so there’s not really been any talk about it. I’d rather just take every game as it comes and think about that at the end of the year. I don’t want to have anything on my mind apart from the league and cup.”
There may be question marks over his future at club level but Duffy’s international career looks a bit more certain following a telephone call from O’Neill last week.
The former Derry City and Celtic winger represented Northern Ireland at underage level but O’Neill has moved to secure him for the Republic and was hoping to call him into the Irish squad for the upcoming Nations League matches against Denmark and Wales in September.
“I was told he was going to ring me,” explained Duffy. “I was waiting for the call patiently and I was obviously buzzing afterwards. Once I’d spoken to Martin, I definitely have my heart set on the Republic of Ireland.
“It’s something I’ve wanted to do since I was a boy and getting a phone call from him to say he was interested in taking me in the squad, I couldn’t believe it, it was a great achievement for me for that to happen.”
Dundalk fans are concerned that the 24-year-old will follow the path of Daryl Horgan and Andy Boyle who left for the UK after being called up for the Irish squad when they were playing with the Lilywhites in 2016 but Duffy said that O’Neill hadn’t expressed a desire for him to move across the water.
“Not really, he just said he was watching me, likes the way I play and is keen to get me involved in the squad,” he stated. “Martin has obviously given players from the league chances. Daryl Horgan was in the squad when he was here and stuff like that. It’s obviously harder getting into the squad from this league but Martin has trusted a few players to do it which is obviously good.”
Red tape is likely to defer Duffy’s call up until November — when the Republic meet the North in a friendly at the Aviva Stadium — and there are concerns that the convoluted process of completing an international transfer could even see it drag into the early part of 2019.
“Hopefully it does come through,” said Duffy. “I’m not sure how long it takes or even what needs to be done. I haven’t had to sign anything yet. I’ll be happy to sign but I don’t know what way it works. Obviously, that (game with Northern Ireland) would be some game to play in if it did come to it.”
Duffy and his Dundalk teammates will be anxious to get back to winning ways on Friday night when they travel to the Markets Field to face Limerick. Stephen Kenny’s side hold a three-point lead over Cork City at the top of the table and Duffy said there were plenty of positives to take from the controversial defeat to Rovers.
“We’re still three points clear so we just need to keep winning.,” he said. “I thought we got robbed. Apart from the first 10 minutes, I thought we dominated the whole game. We missed a lot of chances in the second half and it was never a penalty, I don’t know what he’s thinking giving it.”
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