League Preview: Cork City -v- St Patrick’s Athletic
The Leesiders hopes of avoiding the relegation play off were effectively extinguished last weekend when their two trips to the East Coast yielded no dividends and they returned home empty handed.
They put in a spirited performance against Shelbourne on Friday night before losing 2-1 to Damian Duff’s side but they were well and truly beaten on Monday when they succumbed to Dundalk by 5-0 in Oriel Park.
Their nine-point gap to Sligo Rovers in unlikely to be reversed with only five games remaining and with four of those five games against the Premier Division’s current top five sides, their fate looks sealed after their last two outings.
They are still involved in the FAI Cup however and will have a test run against their semi-final opponents St Patrick’s Athletic this weekend when Jon Daly’s team arrive at Turner’s Cross on Friday night for the 32nd league match in the 36-game competition.
City this week appointed Richie Holland as interim Head Coach until the end of the season and he will be in charge on Friday night, with ex-City player Dan Murray coming in as his assistant. Liam Buckley now returns to the position for which he was hired initially a few months ago, that of Sporting Director.
Holland met with the local media in Cork this week and said “Tomorrow night it’s about getting these boys working, getting these boys at it. I have seen them over the last few seasons and they are a match for anybody in the league.
“We need to get back to basics a bit, get back to what we were good at over the last few seasons. I have a big task to do in a short period of time. I can assure everybody I’ll be giving 120 % and I know the players will be doing the same’’
Even though City face Pats again the following week in the FAI Cup semi-final, he is not looking beyond this league game on Friday night, saying “I think both teams will be looking at it just for the game it is, if you look too far ahead and take your eye off the ball you are in trouble.
“Pats are also going for Europe, we still have ambitions to get points and to get close to the teams above us, that’s the main thing for this game. From Saturday onwards we will start looking ahead to the Cup game against Pats’’
ST PATRICK’S ATHLETIC
The Saints spurned a great opportunity to exert pressure on league leaders Shamrock Rovers last weekend when they only picked up three points from six in the course of their double fixtures on Friday and Monday.
They did the business on Friday night when they got all three points at home to Dundalk, Thomas Lonergan (2) and Mason Melia (penalty) getting their goals in a 3-1 win.
They were unable to repeat the result on Monday night however, going down to a 2-1 defeat at the hands of Drogheda. They fell behind to a sixth minute goal against the Drogs but got back on track before half time through a Chris Forrester equaliser.
It all went wrong for them midway through the second half however. They had Jake Mulraney red carded in the 66th minute, conceded a second goal to the visitors in the 88th minute, a Dayle Rooney wonder strike, and then lost Sam Curtis to another red card in the 96th minute.
They currently sit on 53 points with Rovers on 59 points and will face the Hoops at home in their second last league game of the season at the end of October.
For that game to be still meaningful, they will need to pick up the maximum points in their next three games, starting with the trip to Turner’s Cross this Friday night.
The Saints also have that crucial FAI Cup semi-final coming up (also against Cork City) but manager Jon Daly is insistent that the focus of both him and his team is solely on the next game in the league.
Speaking to the Pats media team he said “It's another big game and one we are looking forward to in Cork. Our focus is fully on the league game and the three points up for grabs.
“We want to get over the disappointment of Monday night against Drogheda and keep ourselves going in the race for Europe in the league.
“It's our fourth league game against Cork and three points would keep us on track if we can get them so a win would be huge.
“We're fully prepared and ready to go."
Referee: Oliver Moran
City have been unable to beat Pats in any of their three previous encounters this season, although they did manage a 1-1 draw last time out in Richmond Park in early July.
Pats won 4-0 and 3-2 in their first two clashes with Jake Mulraney scoring for the Inchicore side in both of those games.
Mulraney seems to make a habit of scoring against the Leesiders as he also hit the net in the 1-1 draw in the July clash. This goal almost gave them the three points only for Ruairi Keating to score a 93rd minute equaliser for City to ensure the points were shared.
City won’t have to worry about Mulraney this Friday night however, as he was red carded in that Drogheda game and will not be in their squad.
Cork City 27/10; Draw 5/2; St Patrick’s Athletic 17/20
Cork City 1- 3 St Patrick’s Athletic
Injured: Darragh Crowley
Doubtful: Tiernan O’ Brien, Kevin Custovic, Rokas Stanulevicius, Barry Coffey
St Patrick’s Athletic
Injured: Tom Grivosti
Suspended: Jake Mulraney, Sam Curtis