Cork City won’t be overawed as they face acid test against leaders Shamrock Rovers
John Caulfied’s side aiming to build on strong start and add weight to status as early title contenders
Shamrock Rovers fans at Dalymount for the recent game against Bohemians.
After week two handed us a top-of-the-table clash between Bohemians and Drogheda, tonight’s first-versus-second encounter between Cork City and Shamrock Rovers at Turner’s Cross has a slightly more realistic feel about it.
Cork have some work to do to show if they are to establish themselves as real contenders, though, while last season’s top trio will all hope to feature in the final tussle for the title again come October.
Still, City have started strongly and with another big home crowd (supporters are advised to buy tickets for tonight’s game in advance) likely to be cheering them on, they’ll scarcely be overawed by a Rovers side that is only top by virtue of having scored a goal more than the southerners.
That John Caulfield’s side has scored as many as it has is something of a credit to his players given the ongoing problems the hosts have up front and while Anthony Elding might just be fit enough to feature here, Danny Morrissey and Michael Rafter will again be sitting in the stand.
Rovers boss Trevor Croly has almost a full squad to choose from, with just David O’Connor still sidelined by the ligament damage he sustained a few weeks ago and the Dubliner is likely to stick closely to the team that looked so impressive against Sligo last week.
Dundalk return to Richmond Park for the first time since their title hopes bit the dust there late in last year’s campaign and the pressure this time is on both clubs not to lose too much ground on the early leaders.
Stephen Kenny has Simon Kelly back from suspension as he looks to get the team winning again in the wake of the home draw with Bohemians and Mark Rossiter may have recovered sufficiently from his hamstring problem to feature in the televised game. Liam Buckley, meanwhile, has doubts about Rene Gilmartin (hamstring) and Ken Oman (groin).
Having already left themselves a bit of ground to make up, Sligo head to Derry buoyed by the fact that they are nine unbeaten in the league against their rivals who are also on just three points after four games.
“We know how to win there,” says Ian Baraclough whose team could do with remembering this evening. Danny Ledwith returns from a hamstring problem but Séamus Conneely (groin) is out and Danny North faces a late test on an injured toe.
The hosts have Patrick McEleney and Barry McNamee (both calf) out but Scottish midfielder Jon-Paul McGovern’s registration has gone through so he could, and most likely will, feature.
Athlone head to Drogheda (which means Mick Cooke heading back to United Park) with the newly-promoted team still looking for a first point.
“I had a lot of these players at Monaghan or Drogheda and they know what we’re about,” said Cooke. As for the visit to a club he left on poor terms: “It’s part of football; I want to win the game but only because of the points, nothing more than that.”