CARRIGALINE native Shane Griffin believes that he had to learn more this year as a player than he has ever had to.
Griffin, who is in his first season with Shelbourne after joining the club from St Patrick’s Athletic having previously played with Cork City, has had to adapt his game with Damien Duff’s side.
Griffin is notorious for being an attacking left-back but finds himself currently playing in a back-three with Shels.
The switch in position has also seen a change in priorities for the 28-year-old.
Griffin said: “I’m enjoying being up here. I think I’ve had a good season especially of late. Perhaps at the start of the season, I wasn’t at my best. That could have been down to a number of factors; trying to settle into a new club or perhaps I was lacking a bit of confidence but I do feel I am playing really well now.
“I have learned so much this year, more than I ever have in my career. I’m used to playing at left-back. It’s where I have played throughout my career. I have played in other positions further up the pitch because people must have seen something in my attacking abilities to play higher up the pitch.
"But now, I’m playing the right-side of a back-three. In the past, it was about me being aware of a player coming in at the back post for crosses or me getting to stop the cross but now I have to be more aware of how to use my body to defend.
"There have been lots of little things I’ve learned. When I was younger it probably pleased me more to get an assist in a game rather than a clean sheet but that has certainly changed now. My priority is getting a clean sheet.
“That’s been made a lot easier by the fact that Joey O’Brien takes defenders in training and just explains everything so simple.
"It’s great to have someone who has played for clubs like West Ham and Bolton along with others as well as representing Ireland at senior level. You just have to listen when he speaks. He’s such a humble person as well.
“I have actually been surprised by the amount of running you have to do in a back-three. Our wing-backs get high up the pitch so you are expected to help them. You have to go in after strikers when they drop in.
Questions were raised about Shelbourne’s achievements earlier this season, but with a semi-final of the FAI Cup to come, as well as their league form improving, Griffin indicates that it has just taken time for their manager to implement his ideas.
“The manager has been brilliant. He is very emotional and you can tell that in his interviews. He loves football. He’s so passionate and is one of those managers that kicks every ball.
"Like every manager, it takes time for him to get his ideas across and for players to get used to them. At the start, players did have to adjust to his training sessions because they are so intense and demanding, and some players weren’t used to that.
"I think we are improving all the time. Leading into the cup game against Bohs, we hadn’t defeated them in our four league meetings but we were getting closer every time, and it was clear how much we have improved since our first meeting in the cup game.
“It will be a difficult semi-final against Waterford. They are there on merit. They beat Pat's and Dundalk, and deserve a lot of credit.
"Just look at the results against those sides. They scored three goals in each of those games. So they are obviously very strong in attack.
"It’s a game that we will have to be at our best for. The RSC is a difficult place to go in normal circumstances but considering it’s a semi-final, it will make it even more of a challenge. It would be a great achievement to get to the final for the club.”
So what of Griffin’s plans for next season?
“I signed a one-year deal here last year so my contract will be up soon. I have enjoyed my time at the club and would like to stay so I just have to wait and see what happens, but I would like to stay."