O'Halloran looking to make impression

 

With their league challenge having taken a severe hammering in December when they could manage just two points from five games, none of Dave Barry's players will need reminding that they might be playing to salvage something from a season that had promised so much when they take on Shamrock Rovers in Turner's Cross this afternoon.

For one of the club's younger players, though, there might even be a good deal more at stake than that.

This time last year Greg O'Halloran was being hailed by everybody at Cork City as an important discovery as the teenager - who had returned from Hull City a few months before first breaking into Barry's first team - secured a regular spot in the starting line up.

A couple of suspensions didn't help his cause but O'Halloran had still done enough over the course of the campaign to earn a place in Brian Kerr's Irish Youths squad for last year's European Championship in Sweden.

Since then, however, the versatile right sided player has found his forward momentum a little more difficult to maintain.

"It was certainly frustrating earlier in the season," he admits now. "I'd come back from Sweden having been involved in four games for Ireland and back here I wasn't playing first team football. I was lucky that we've got a good reserve team here and it plays in a decent league but it still did take a bit of getting used to."

In the end, though, the youngster had to adjust to the slight step back for with Derek Coughlan out injured, Barry's team became very settled at the back where Stephen Napier was doing well enough at right full to keep his rival stuck on the sidelines.

"I finally got my chance against Bohemians a few weeks back when Declan Daly came off but, to be honest, I didn't really think I did all that well. Then Stephen came down with the flu so I got in again. He'd been doing really well but hopefully now that I'm in I can do enough to stay there."

Aside from the desire to make up for the disappointment of last season, O'Halloran has a particular incentive for hoping that things go well for him over the remainder of the season. With his contract due to expire in the summer the 19-year-old knows that a great deal will depend on him catching the eye.

"It's a make or break time for me all right," he says. "With the contract up soon I know that I have to play well to get another one, or even to attract some interest from cross channel clubs but the fact is that it's a hard team to even stay in."

Being associated with a win over Rovers this afternoon would be a help he knows and he is hopeful that City can book their place in the third round with a victory in front of what should be a good crowd at Turner's Cross.

"To have gotten a draw up there in a cup competition is good, now we have the chance to beat them at home and with Patsy Freyne fit again and Liam O'Brien back, I think we'll do it."

Meanwhile, Finn Harps' second round tie against Home Farm Fingal was again called off yesterday due to a waterlogged pitch and is provisionally re-fixed for Sunday at 3 p.m.