The clash of Cork City and Dundalk would normally whet the appetite of most League of Ireland supporters, however last weekend’s 4-2 victory by Bohemians over Cork has taken some of the gloss off Friday night’s fixture at Turners Cross.
The defeat in Dalymount was arguably City’s worst performance in many years, which even drew apologies from Manager John Caulfield and some of his players.
John Caulfield said after the defeat, “First off, I want to apologise to the fans that travelled and the fans at home, it was probably the worst 45 minutes we’ve had.”
Following his defensive horror-show against Bohs it will be interesting to see if Damian Delaney features, or if Caulfield will bring back youngster Seán McLoughlin, as Alan Bennett is a doubt for the game. McLoughlin missed the game in Dalymount due to an injury picked up on International duty. City will be without Colm Horgan, Johnny Dunleavy and Barry McNamee, while there are also doubts over the availability of Josh O’Hanlon and Karl Sheppard. Kieran Sadlier hopes to return having missed the Bohemians game through injury.
With Dundalk holding a six point (seven if you take their considerably better goal-difference into account) advantage, whilst also having a game in hand, surely winning the title is an impossible task for City!
Caulfield said, “Obviously, the guys were disappointed after last Friday. We were really poor and made a lot of mistakes. The most important thing is that you have to bounce back and, all week, we have been working on that and giving a proper performance.”
“We have the team that has been up there with us for the last four or five years coming to Turner’s Cross. The games are always hectic, big crowd, great atmosphere and we need to put a huge performance in. We just have to concentrate on putting a performance in and getting the three points in front of our own supporters.”
“Our supporters have been fantastic over the last four or five years and have given fantastic support to the team and, likewise, the team have given the supporters fantastic value as well. They expect a committed, passionate City performance, because that is what we are all about, and that is what I think we will do on Friday.”
“We are at home and I hope our supporters will come out in big numbers. With a bouncing Turner’s Cross I believe the team will give a big performance. We lost one game a couple of weeks ago but, up to that, our home record was phenomenal.”
Dundalk will travel South with a more or less fit squad, bar long-term absentee Stephen O’Donnell and Karolis Chvedukas, who underwent an ankle operation earlier in the week and has been ruled out for the remainder of the campaign.
The Lilywhites haven’t lost an away League game since a 2-1 defeat to Waterford in May, and will look to continue that that on Friday night.
Stephen Kenny is quietly confident that his team will do the business saying, “The players have shown a real high level of consistency over the past few months. They have performed very well and the challenge is to take that into the game tomorrow night with Cork City. We are well prepared for the game and our ambition is to take our current form to Turner’s Cross. ”
Defender Sean Hoare is looking forward to playing on the good Turners Park pitch, which he says will suit them, “We’ve had a lot of time to prepare for this game so everybody is raring to go. Turners Cross always a tough place to go with a big home support but it’s usually a nice surface down there which suits us. They’re always tight battles and we expect the same on Friday.”
“We all know we need to keep going now at such an important time of the season. Everyone bar one or two is fit and ready so there’s healthy competition for places all over the pitch which is keeping everyone on their toes.”