League Preview: Cork City -v- Shelbourne

by Patrick O' Connor

CORK CITY

A resurgent Cork City have climbed from ninth to sixth position in the First Division table through the months of July and August and while it was inconceivable early in the season that they would be in the mix for a top four slot it’s now in their sights albeit that it’s still very much a long shot.

They sit on 25 points having gone unbeaten in seven games, their last defeat was against Treaty United on July 2nd, and they have also banged in 12 goals in their last four games.

At the weekly Cork City press conference, manager Colin Healy said, “we are in a good position in relation to the squad for the Shelbourne match. Josh Honahan is touch and go, Gearoid Morrissey won’t be ready until after the cup break next weekend and of course Gordon Walker is still out.

“Even when these lads are back, they will have to fight hard to get back into the team, that’s what it’s all about, competition for places. Having competition for places drives the standards in the club.”

He added: ‘‘confidence is very high at the moment. We have so much pace up front, off the ball we are also very aggressive, and we have also tightened up a lot at the back.

“We are a real attacking threat going forward, it’s hard work but that is what we have asked of the players and to be fair to them they have responded very well over the last six or seven games.”

In relation to the Shelbourne match, Healy said, “we certainly don’t fear Shelbourne, we aim for three points every time we take the pitch.

“They are a very good side, that’s why they are top of the table but the lads and the coaches are looking forward to it, we expect to put in a very good performance.”

SHELBOURNE

After suffering an FAI Cup exit at the hands of UCD and then a 3-1 defeat to second placed Galway United, Shelbourne regained their composure over the last two weekends by drawing at home to top four contenders Bray Wanderers and then recording a 4-0 win last Friday night, albeit against a 10 man Wexford who sit at the bottom of the league table.

Their eight-point lead at the top of the table still looks unassailable, however they will face a real test of their title winning credentials when they face a resurgent Cork City in Turners Cross on Friday night.

Shels had it all their own way against Wexford whose cause was not helped by the dismissal of Paul Fox after only ten minutes. Ryan Brennan, with two, Yassine En Neyah and Ally Gilchrist were the goal scorers on the night and there was further good news for manager Ian Morris when Yoyo Mahdy came off the bench to replace Michael O’Connor on 60 minutes.

Mahdy has been injured for some time so his return to action may be crucial as the Reds face into their last 6 games in the league starting with the Turners Cross clash.

Shels Manager Ian Morris said he has been pleased to have almost a full roster of players in training this week ahead of the crucial game in Cork.

Morris added that new signing Stanley Anaebonam has had a full week of training and is available for selection on Friday night.

“Stan gives us another option. He can finish with both feet – he’s quick and can deliver too so it’s good to have options,” he said. 

“Everyone is chomping at the bit to get on but for us it is a matter of looking at what suits the game best. 

“A lot of football has been played on the pitch there over the last week, so we’ll see how it is and consider that too,” he added. 

Morris said it is an important weekend for the league and says how the table sits after Friday night will signal a lot about how the season will pan out. 

“Cork have been on a decent run. They’re trying to make the play-offs while we have our own objective which we are focused on,” Morris said, speaking to the club’s website. 

Shelbourne have no suspensions for the game Friday night while JJ Lunney and Gerardo Bruna continue to miss out with injury. 

Referee: Gavin Colfer

MATCH STATS

There have been four fixtures between these two sides since Feb 2020 with the Reds definitely having the upper hand, winning three and drawing one.

In the most recent fixture in Tolka Park on June 25th, Shels won 2-1, Michael O’Connor and Ryan Brennan scored for Shels with Cian Murphy netting for City.

BETTING

Cork City 14/5; Draw 23/10; Shelbourne 17/20.

PREDICTION

Cork City 2–1 Shelbourne

Cork City

Injured: Gearoid Morrissey, Gordon Walker.

Doubtful: Josh Honohan.

Suspended: None.

Shelbourne

Injured: Gerardo Bruna, JJ Lunney.

Doubtful: None.

Suspended: None.