‘I contemplated wearing a cap. I wanted to keep my eyes’ – Damien Duff claims he was hit by coin at Dalymount Park

But the Shels boss was more upset by his team’s tentative first-half showing that left management feeling short changed when Jonathan Afolabi’s header proving decisive.

“I contemplated wearing a cap here tonight because things have been thrown at me before,” said Duff, as he described an incident that occurred as he walked towards the opposition dressing room last night. He had previously said an object was thrown in his direction after a league meeting at the venue earlier in the season.

“I want to keep my two eyes. It’s as simple as that but what you can do. It was a euro. They didn’t even throw a two.”

Duff had plenty to ponder before that incident occurred. He was mystified by the failure of the officials to spot a handball from Bohs midfielder James McManus just before the interval but, ultimately, he conceded that Shels only had themselves to blame for starting so poorly.

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“It’s absolutely a stonewaller,” said Duff, “They (officials) are telling me hand down by his side. It’s out at a 90 degree angle, it’s right in front of me so that’s really disappointing. Sometimes I wonder if their mics are working and they speak to each other. The lads are more up in arms about one in the second half (involving Sean Boyd). I haven’t seen it back.

“Here, I’m not going to come in and say ‘we should have had a peno and all’ but the thing that grates me tonight is not Paul (McLaughlin) – I think his name is – the referee. I should know it as he sent me off last season. ‘I’m an innocent man, I did nothing.’ That’s not what I’m angry at, the penalty decision, it’s our first half of football, I can’t stand that

“It cost us the game. I could have gone in and talked tactics at half-time with a list this long but, for me, it was about stoking a fire within them and an edge and emotion. They had more than us and it gave them momentum, set pieces, we had to suck it up. It would have been great if we could have got through to half time and we didn’t. If you don’t start games properly you’re left with an uphill battle and that’s what happened

“If I can aim one thing at them (his players) over the 18 months, yeah I’ve loved working with them, but too many times they leave minutes, moments and halves of football behind. I can’t understand that because for me it comes down to a mentality thing. You can’t come to Dalymount and play Bohs and expect it’s going to be a nice football game and they’ll roll over. They won’t. Whether there was a bit of that, I don’t know. Yeah different team second half but you’re chasing your tail.”

Defeat closes an avenue to Europe for last year’s finalists, which means they need to secure a top-three finish in the league to qualify or else claim fourth and hope one of the sides above them lifts the trophy. As it stands, Shels are in sixth, eight points behind third-placed Derry with a game in hand. Bohs are four points ahead of them in fourth.

“We openly speak about Europe because that’s where I want to go, that’s where I want to bring the club, so, yeah, it’s a route that is gone,” he continued.

“If we continue to concede set pieces – we’ve had a dry month but we conceded one tonight – and you leave halves behind, you ain’t going to win games, it’s simple. You just cannot do it in elite football and this is elite football.

“It happens in any level, in the Premier League. I’ll never get to the bottom of it. They were shown a really emotional video tonight before the game. They were shown a similar enough video last year against Bohs at Tolka Park (a 3-0 Shels win), a cup quarter final and they played with an edge for 100 minutes.

“They’re a group that I struggle to figure out at times. They’ll be devastated because they’ll know they left a half behind and it’s cost us.”

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