Cork City are in good shape for Friday evening's FAI Cup semi-final at Turner's Cross (kick-off 7.15pm, live on RTÉ2) according to forward Karl Sheppard.
He believes the performance against Dundalk on Monday night has topped up the team's confidence levels as they try to maintain their hopes of a double by beating Limerick.
“Spirits are high to be honest,” says the 26-year-old. “Going into that game we knew that it was a ‘must not lose’ sort of situation and so it was an alright result for us. It would have been great to get the win on the day but I think it was the performance that really picked up the spirits . . . a typical Cork City performance, sort of what people have come to know and expect from us and so we were happy that we delivered on the day.”
Limerick have shown a significant improvement in recent weeks with their cup quarter-final win over Galway followed by a draw at Bray then last week's home defeat of Cork. They will be hoping that, with fears of relegation eased, the likes of former City player Chiedozie Ogbene, Rodrigo Tosi and Shane Tracy can help them secure the win that would take them to a first final since Limerick United, as they were then, won the competition way back in 1982. Sheppard, though, says the City players have other ideas and know what to expect.
“We’re at the stage of the season now when you know what teams are going to be like and we know what Limerick are going to be like; they sit back deep, try to hit you on the counter, they have a bit of pace on the wings and they have Tosi up front who is a proven finisher. It is going to be tough but in Turners’ Cross we obviously fancy ourselves against anyone so it’s up to us to get over the line and get to the final.
“We’re at home, we have to come out of the traps quickly, get them on the back foot as fast as we can and make sure we don’t give away any sloppy goals the way we did up in their place.”
The visitors should be close to full strength for the game while John Caulfield must wait on Alan Bennett, Steven Beattie, Kieran Sadlier and Stephen Dooley, all of whom face late fitness tests in the wake of Monday evening's highly competitive encounter.