Airtricity League: Stakes high as Cork City look to repeat Cup success
John Caulfield expects reaction from Shamrock Rovers to heavy defeat
Cork City manager John Caulfield: “We did very well, but I would expect a massive reaction from them and a totally different game.” Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho.
With Dundalk having made a memorable start to a Europa League group stage campaign that is likely to stretch them severely over the coming weeks, Cork City must look to make immediate inroads into their rivals’ 10 point lead at the top of the table and they will be hopeful of making initial progress this evening in Turner’s Cross against a Shamrock Rovers side that they beat out of sight in Tallaght last week.
“They were on a good run,” says John Caulfield of Stephen Bradley’s side, “but sometimes that can happen in the cup. We did very well, but I would expect a massive reaction from them and a totally different game. The most important thing for us is to try and perform the way we did last Friday, and to try and keep putting points on the board. We want to close the gap and stay in there for the run-in.”
Dave Mulcahy is available again for the hosts after having been cup-tied but Alan Bennett and Steven Beattie are both carrying knocks and will have late fitness tests before Barry settles on his starting line-up..
If pride was the only thing at stake for Shamrock Rovers then the scale of last Friday’s defeat would make this a big enough game but Bradley and his players need to get their own challenge for a place in Europe next season back on track and so somehow they must look to engineer a result this evening.
Bradley will be relieved to have Gary Shaw and Brandon Miele back for this game for the lack of experience in his starting 11 clearly took its toll when things started to go wrong in Tallaght. Patrick Cregg is suspended, though, and the manager, who says he will persist with his preferred 3-5-2 formation, has limited options as he looks to shake things up, something that key board member Ray Wilson acknowledged this week during a visit home to progress the club’s academy development in Kingswood and update fans on developments.
“We know we need more experience and we will deal with that ahead of next season,” he said while admitting that the 5-0 cup defeat had been a humiliation, “but we need to be united as a club behind what we are doing.”
The Dubliner, who will be at this evening’s game before heading home to Australia, sees regular European football as absolutely key for the club and while a decision on who is in charge of the first team next season has yet to be made, he lists Bradley prominently amongst the club’s key coaching talents.
At the other end of the table, Alan Mathews says the challenge for his side is to “go to Ballybofey, get a result and start of a run going,” but it looks increasingly like Longford are fighting a losing battle. Finn Harps, in any case, will have Barry Molloy and Sean Houston in for their visit while Dave Scully is set to start up front for the injured Ruairi Keating.
Derry’s game at Wexford Youths, meanwhile, has implications at both ends of the table. Like the one in Cork, it is a rematch with City having won the cup tie last week but, says their manager Kenny Shiels, “they have a lot to play for because something will give in the other game (Harps v Longford) and (because of City v Rovers) it’s exactly the same for us.
Fixtures (7.45 unless stated)
Cork City v Shamrock Rovers
Home: 4/7, Draw: 13/5, Away: 5/1.
Galway United v Bohemians
Home: 7/5, Draw: 21/10, Away: 15/8.
Finn Harps v Longford Town (8.0)
Home: 5/6, Draw: 12/5, Away: 16/5.
Wexford Youths v Derry City (8.0)
Home: 7/2, Draw: 13/5, Away: 8/11.
Drogheda United v Shelbourne
Home: 8/11, Draw: 5/2, Away: 100/30.
UCD v Cobh Ramblers
Home: 8/11, Draw: 11/4, Away: 11/4.
Waterford United v Cabinteely
Home: 4/9, Draw: 16/5, Away: 5/1.
Betting courtesy of Paddy Power.