After last weekend’s scoreless draw away to Galway United, which brought to an end Cork City’s run of twelve straight league victories, the Rebels will want to stamp out any faint suspicion that they might, after all, be beatable.
Giving up such an impressive sequence must, to some degree at least, reset a team’s psychology and Drogheda will be hoping that some quiver of doubt will be lingering at the back of City’s collective mind. From City’s point of view any hint of doubt must be ruthlessly extinguished.
And so, despite their colossal twelve-point lead over second placed Bray Wanderers, everyone in the Cork City dressing-room will recognise the importance of securing a win on Friday night. And, let’s be honest, a home win is what everyone expects.
The bookies have Drogheda at 14/1 to win this, which tells us most of what we need to know, but slivers of hope do exist for the Drogs. The loss of midfield anchor, Conor McCormack, to suspension is one of them. McCormack has been magnificent for the Rebels in recent weeks. But his replacement will be Greg Bolger, one of the League’s foremost defensive midfielders.
Gearoid Morrissey will also be absent, ruled out with a hip injury, and he too has been instrumental in establishing midfield dominance for John Caulfield’s team throughout this campaign. Steven Beattie, who has been operating at right-back, and Karl Sheppard are also doubtful but Caulfield has options in both areas with the return to the fold of John Kavanagh after injury and the versatility of winter signing Jimmy Keohane.
Despite the tremors of mortality that rose at Eamonn Deacy Park last Friday night, City should have enough to overcome a Drogheda side who have lost five of their seven away fixtures this season.
Drogheda United have a monumental task ahead of them as they travel south to take on the League leaders Cork City on Friday night and a glance at the bookies’ odds will tell you that they are overwhelming favourites to be beaten.
Pete Mahon has put together a decent starting XI at the County Louth club but, on paper at least, they simply don’t match up to the kind of players available to City boss, John Caulfield.
Drogheda have struggled defensively and have kept just one clean sheet in their last eleven league outings. Within that sequence they have let in more than one on all but three occasions and the last time these teams met, back in mid March, they were breached four times.
In midfield they have the talented and reliable Sean Thornton while they can also call on the experience of the three Brennan brothers. Up front, though, the Drogs will have to do without Thomas Byrne who is injured while Gareth McCaffrey, their second highest scorer this term, left the club during the week.
On a positive note, Adam Wixted has hit form in recent weeks, scoring three times in their last three league fixtures and the return of Gavin Brennan from suspension offers Mahon more options in midfield.
City may have lost their 100% record in Galway last week but Drogheda will have to perform at the very height of their ability to prevent the Rebels starting a new winning streak.
Referee: Robert Rogers
The last time Cork City failed to score in a league game was against Sligo Rovers on 24th of September 2016.
The last time Cork City failed to win a league game at Turner’s Cross was against Bohemians (0-0) on 12th August 2016.
The last time Drogheda won away at Cork in the League was on 9th March 2012. Tiarnan Mulvenna, Peter Hynes and Gavin Kavanagh with an own-goal scored for Drogheda while Daryl Horgan and Vinny Sullivan netted for Cork. The attendance that night was 3,912.
Cork 2/11, Draw 6/1, Drogheda 14/1.
Cork City 3-0 Drogheda United
Injured: Gearoid Morrissey (hip).
Doubtful: Steven Beattie, Karl Sheppard.
Suspended: Conor McCormack.
Injured: Thomas Byrne, Colm Deasy.