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Europe is Duffy's way to show he's not done just yet

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Celtic's Shane Duffy celebrates scoring his side's third goal of the game against Ross County during the Scottish Premiership match at the Global Energy Stadium, Dingwall. PA Photo

Celtic's Shane Duffy celebrates scoring his side's third goal of the game against Ross County during the Scottish Premiership match at the Global Energy Stadium, Dingwall. PA Photo

PA

Celtic's Shane Duffy celebrates scoring his side's third goal of the game against Ross County during the Scottish Premiership match at the Global Energy Stadium, Dingwall. PA Photo

When he was at his peak as a player, it was a move away from Celtic which almost cost Mick McCarty his international career.

The move from Parkhead to Lyon in 1989 made financial sense, thanks to a lucrative three-year contract, and French football also offered a new challenge to McCarty, who had won three medals in his two seasons as a Celt.

But factors combined to make Lyon a struggle and, stuck in their reserves six months before the World Cup finals, McCarthy needed a loan spell at Millwall as a rescue mission to keep himself in the Ireland side.

Already, it's been argued that Shane Duffy's move in the opposite direction to the McCarthy move, to from England to Glasgow, is a disaster in waiting for the national team.

Duffy was expected to leave Brighton at the start of this season, as a lack of game time last term and their addition of new, younger defenders, suggested he would play rarely this season, but it was thought that one of the Wests (Brom or Ham) would be his destination.

Instead Celtic were able to combine a financial package acceptable to Duffy and Brighton and also offer the emotional draw of playing in the green and white, to lure him north of the border there.

In one way, Duffy's start to life at Celtic was perfect from an Irish viewpoint: a win, a clean sheet and a goal on his debut. Smiles all round.

But there's also a negative spin: a 5-0 win (over Ross County) away from home is hardly a sign that Duffy will be challenged in Scotland this season.

Would one of Ireland's key players (and, at the moment, our best bet to score a goal) simply regress if he had a weekly diet of beating St Mirren and Hamilton 5-0?

There isn't even the chance to 'play up' in the Champions League, Celtic knocked out early in the qualifying round. Again.

Eyebrows were raised and beards were scratched when Duffy made his move to Scotland but it was ex-Ireland man Gary Breen who voiced what many in the game in England felt: that players like Duffy would regress in a league where strikers would pose no threat to a Premier League-level player like Duffy.

"This is a brilliant move for Celtic but the quality of player he is playing against now will be a big concern for Ireland," Breen told OTB Sports.

"He is not going to be up against quality centre-forwards. There is no centre-forward in Scotland who would play in a Premier League team. None. He is going to be playing against lesser quality and that is a concern."

The League of Ireland does not like having so-called outsiders lobbing jibes its way (as John Sheridan knows) but Scottish football is even more precious about its status and importance than the ultra-defensive LOI.

In a quiet week, Breen's comments were manna from heaven for the prickly Scottish media.

They lined up some ex-pros to tell Breen just how wrong he was: Pierre van Hooijdonk ("You don't become a shit player simply by moving leagues") and Chris Sutton ("Idiotic attack on the Scottish game").

Last night Duffy's manager, Neil Lennon, also took aim at Breen in defence of Scotland's honour.

"Gary's comments are totally unnecessary, unfounded, there's no sort of substance to them whatsoever and completely wrong," said Lennon ahead of tonight's game at home to St Mirren.

Yet that game this evening could only add fuel to the fire.

St Mirren, gallantly and cleverly managed on a shoestring budget by Waterford man Jim Goodwin, have already been beaten 3-0 by an Old Firm side this season, and a heavy defeat to Celtic tonight could add to Breen's theory.

But Duffy is also suffering from an over-obsession with the Premier League in England, with all leagues outside of that not worth a thought.

Before Timo Werner's deut for Chelsea, player-turned-pundit Alan Smith was heard to ask the question no one else thought of, whether Werner could "deliver at this level".

Yes, because where Werner has been for the last seven years is that footballing black hole called the Bundesliga, home of the current European champions.

First team football with Celtic is better for Duffy than none at Brighton, and West Brom and West Ham have already this season shown they have defenders who struggle to defend against decent forwards.

Ousted from the Champions League, Celtic are still in the Europa League and if they can go on a run in that competition, perhaps it would be treated with the same respect as Wolves earned last season. Duffy could then show that maybe the Premier League is not the only show in town.