‘Exciting times ahead’ – Ireland Player of the Year Shane Duffy looking to the future

Having been crowned Republic of Ireland Senior International Player of the Year, a delighted Shane Duffy is already looking to the future.

The Brighton and Hove Albion centre back followed in the footsteps of players such as Paul McGrath, Richard Dunne and Roy Keane when he was named as Ireland’s best player at the Football Association of Ireland (FAI) awards, which took place on Sunday, beating competition from James McClean and Darren Randolph.

Duffy broke into the Ireland team at Euro 2016 – making his competitive debut in the 1-0 win over Italy – and has since established himself as a force to be reckoned with at the heart of Martin O’Neill’s defence. The Derry native featured nine times for the Boys in Green in 2017, helping them to clean sheets against Wales, Denmark and Moldova. He also contributed two goals against Georgia and the opener in the play-off defeat to the Danes at Lansdowne Road.

“It’s a big achievement for me and I’m delighted,” Duffy told FAI TV. “Of course [it’s a proud moment]. It’s the best one you can get if you’re an international player. My mum and dad are probably over the moon and I’m delighted with it. Hopefully I can have another good season.”

Now 26 and performing well in the Premier League, Duffy has become an integral component in O’Neill’s team, where he has forged a formidable partnership with Ciarán Clark.

He is part of the relatively youthful squad for the upcoming friendly game against Turkey, which takes place in Antalya on March 23. Only goalkeeper Colin Doyle and striker Shane Long are over the age of 30 and there are a total of eight uncapped players in the 25-man panel. As the Boys in Green get ready to take to the field for first time since their disappointing play-off defeat to Denmark, the Derry native projected a positive mentality.

“We have a big couple of years coming up now,” noted Duffy. “Obviously the main aim is to qualify for Euro 2020. We’ve got a new squad coming together and will be trying to gel everyone in.

“And obviously I have to keep the standard of my performances high as well for the team. I’m looking forward to the next two years. We have an exciting team and there are exciting times ahead.”

28th FAI International Awards Winners

Senior International Player of the Year
Shane Duffy

Senior Women’s International Player of the Year
Harriet Scott

Young International Player of the Year
Cyrus Christie

International Goal of the Year
James McClean v Wales

Under 21 International Player of the Year
Josh Cullen

Under 19 International Player of the Year
Declan Rice

Under 19 Women’s International Player of the Year
Lucy McCartan

Under 17 International Player of the Year
Aaron Bolger

Under 17 Women’s International of the Year
Tiegan Ruddy

Under 16 International Player of the Year
Jason Knight

Under 16 Women’s International Player of the Year
Aoife Slattery

Under 15 Men’s International Player of the Year
Troy Parrott

Junior International Player of the Year
Chris Higgins (St Michael’s)

Intermediate Player of the Year
Aidan Roche (Liffey Wanderers)

Colleges & Universities International Player of the Year
Sean McLoughlin (UCC)

Schools International Player of the Year
Neil Farrugia (St Andrew’s College, Blackrock)

Football For All International Player of the Year
Gary Messitt (Cerebral Palsy squad)

SSE Airtricity League Player of the Year
Sean Maguire (Cork City)

Special Merit
Jimmy Magee

International Personality
Marco Tardelli

Hall of Fame
Damien Duff

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