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Wednesday 11 December 2019

Duffy looking to Baku after a crazy week

Dundalk's Michael Duffy. Photo: Seb Daly/Sportsfile
Dundalk's Michael Duffy. Photo: Seb Daly/Sportsfile

Michael Duffy is still coming back to earth after one of the craziest weeks of his life.

The birth of the Dundalk winger's first child became national news when it was the reason for his absence from their opening Champions League win over Riga.

He watched the dramatic penalty shoot-out on his phone just minutes after his partner Emily gave birth to Eli in a Derry hospital.

Duffy is mixing his time between Dundalk and Derry as they come to terms with the new arrival, but there is no such thing as paternity leave in his profession. He knows that he has to get the work-life balance right heading into a busy spell which could shape the story of Dundalk's season.

The 24-year-old went straight back to Derry after Wednesday's 1-1 draw with Qarabag, which keeps the Louth club's Champions League hopes alive heading into next week's return clash in Baku. With a league game against St Patrick's Athletic in Dublin tomorrow on the agenda ahead of Monday's trip, Duffy is grateful that his other half understands his job.

Balance

"I have to get the balance right," says Duffy, who explained that Emily will be staying in Derry for a couple of weeks to recover.

"It's a bit of a killer now, with a game Saturday and away on Monday. I'm not going to see them that much. It's going to be a tough couple of weeks but it will be normal then when she comes down (to Dundalk).

"I'll obviously have days up in Derry but when I come back down here I've got to get focused, because it's the biggest few weeks of the season and we've got a great opportunity to make the most of it."

Duffy admitted that the attention around Eli's arrival had come as a bit of a surprise to the young couple. The saga over whether he would make it to Latvia meant that the chronology of a personal landmark suddenly became public knowledge.

"It was a bit crazy for Emily really because there were reports everywhere and she's getting messages off everyone. She was like, 'What's going on here?' It was all over the place for three days but that's just the way it is. I was missing a big important game like that. But, thankfully, everything went well.

"You couldn't write the way it happened. The baby was born, we got pictures done and then I had to go out to the recovery room and wait for her.

"And then I just got the match up on my phone and the penalties were just starting. It was an amazing day I will never forget."

Duffy grew into Wednesday's first leg with Qarabag, finding space late on, and he knows what the Irish champions need to do right in Baku.

"They are a great passing team so we're going to have to be organised well," he said.

"We need to be on form on the counter-attack. We got chances on Wednesday when our final ball improved."

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