Dundalk and Cork City set for top of the table battle
Gary Rogers will make his 100th league appearance for Dundalk
Dundalk goalkeeper Gary Rogers will be hoping to keep a clean sheet when he makes his 100th appearance against Cork City. Photograph: Inpho
It sometimes seems these days as if the country’s top two teams simply spend their time teeing up their various top-of-the-table showdowns. Just a few weeks ago the title race seemed to be shaping up to be a three- or even four-way affair. Now Cork and Leaders Dundalk sit together, four points clear as they prepare to go toe to toe once more in front of a jam packed Turner’s Cross.
City haven’t conceded a goal at home this season while their opponents tonight haven’t done so on the road. And Gary Rogers, just for good measure, will be making is 100th league appearance for the visitors having previously failed to keep a clean sheet down south in a Dundalk shirt. “Something,” an excited broadcaster might be forgiven for exclaiming live on air, “has gotta give”.
In Oriel Park a few weeks back it was Cork City, collectively, with the champions barely ever threatening to get going after having fallen behind early on to a Pat Hoban goal. They’ve looked to be in better shape of late and put Bohemians away professionally enough last week while Dundalk were twice surrendering a lead to Derry. However, the Dublin side did a steady line in half chances and Stephen Kenny might well feel that a team with a bit more bite about them in the final third will, at the very least, make Mark McNulty work a lot harder if his proud home record in to still be in tact come 9pm.
Both sides are back to something closely approaching full strength with Steven Beattie returning from suspension for Cork City while Krisztian Adorjan and Brian Gartland are fit again for the visitors.
That means decisions to be made by the respective managers with Cork manager John Caulfield having, for instance, to weigh up whether to bring Alan Bennett back into a back four that has been doing pretty well of late and start with Kieran Sadlier who made a positive impact from the bench in Dalymount last week.
Elsewhere, there is plenty being played for and Waterford might well view their home game against Sligo as an opportunity to close that gap on the two sides above them.
Alan Reynolds acknowledged that his side was a little lucky to win when the clubs met at the Showgrounds but he has everyone back from suspension at this stage and Sligo, who will be missing David Cawley, haven’t managed a goal in either of their last two league outings.
Manager Stephen Bradley could really do with a repeat of Shamrock Rovers’ 6-1 win over Derry City but any sort of win would be a boost to him just now. The hosts have been on a remarkable run since they got back home but they will be without Gavin Peers or Ronan Hale for this one and while the likes of Rory Patterson and Nathan Boyle are said to be in a contention, the Dubliners are somewhat overdue and a big result of the right kind.
Bohemians travel to Inchicore for their clash with St Patrick’s Athletic without Danny Grant (hamstring) who joins Karl Moore as a longer-term absentees on the injury list but Keith Long has Paddy Kavanagh back from suspension and Oscar Brennan fit again.
Bray Wanderers and Limerick, meanwhile, is the night’s other real six-pointer with the home side looking to half the gap at the foot of the table. Recent performances suggest the visitors have, at the very least, some cause for concern.