Fifth-place Cork City will look to build upon their comfortable victory over Finn Harps on Friday night when they welcome fellow title challengers Shamrock Rovers to Turner’s Cross on Monday night (kick-off 7.45pm).
The match had been originally set for five weeks ago, but due to Brandon Miele (Shamrock Rovers), Kevin O’Connor and Sean Maguire (both Cork City) being involved in Ireland’s under-21 international with Italy, the game was postponed.
Gearóid Morrissey, Sean Maguire and Karl Sheppard sealed a facile 3-1 victory over Finn Harps last Friday night, meaning the Rebels have scored ten goals in their past two home games, seven of which came against Waterford United in last Monday’s EA Sports Cup tie
After Cork ended their league hoodoo over Dundalk at Oriel Park in March, they were expected to lead the league from the front heading into the summer months. However, their form since has been patchy with Sligo Rovers, Wexford Youths and Galway United taking points off John Caulfield’s me in consecutive league matches prior to their victory over Harps.
Speaking at his recent press conference, Cork City manager John Caulfield explained that he
was confident in his side’s abilities, but warned that Rovers will pose a stiff test to their unbeaten home record this term.
“It’s a fantastic match for us,” Caulfield told the club's website.
“The most important thing for us was to get back to winning ways on Friday night.
“I felt that, over a couple of weeks, the confidence of some of the lads had dropped a bit and, while we had been creating loads of chances, we had not been taking them and we needed to get back to winning ways.
“Rovers are another title contender and they are a very good side. Cork City and Rovers at Turner’s Cross always has a bit of an edge to it, so we have to be on our game and we have to win tomorrow night.
“They have a lot of pace and energy and they started the season very well. We are at home and, while they are a very good side, we are also a very good side and I feel that, if we play well, we will win the match.”
Cork will be without Kenny Browne for the visit of Rovers through suspension following his petulant red card in their win over Harps on Friday night. John Kavanagh and Eoghan O’Connell will miss the match though injury, while Stephen Dooley is viewed as a major doubt.
Dundalk ruthlessly exposed the defensive frailties of Shamrock Rovers during the Hoops’ 2-0 defeat at Tallaght Stadium last Friday night.
In what was viewed as the acid test for Pat Fenlon’s men in terms of their title challenge, Rovers couldn’t build upon a good early start and defensive mistakes saw them lose comfortably against the Lilywhites.
Indeed, Rovers entered last Friday evening’s match full of optimism having ruthlessly dismantled Dublin derby rivals Bohemians in Dalymount Park a week previous, a victory that lifted the gloom and pressure off Pat Fenlon following an indifferent start to the season.
The pressure though will be intense for the Dubliners again tomorrow night as if they drop further points against title rivals like they have done already this term when facing St. Partick’s Athletic, Derry City and Dundalk, it could be assumed that they won’t be adding an eighteenth league triumph to the Tallaght trophy room this season.
Brandon Miele and Gary McCabe have been the star men for Rovers this year, but following McCabe’s dismissal against Dundalk for his imprudent tackle on Lilywhites captain Stephen O’Donnell, Miele will be expected to provide the leadership in attack against a Cork City side, who have been untypically generous defensively this term, failing to keep a clean sheet in their last three league outings.
Fenlon wasn’t best pleased with his skipper following his red-card, but refused to disclose exactly what he said to him. He said “that will stay between me and Gary,” although his anger was there for all to see.
Striker Gary Shaw missed the Dundalk match with a hamstring complaint, but he is expected to return for their trip to Leeside. Dean Clarke who replaced him may retain his place as a result of O’Neill’s suspension with Mikey Drennan returning to his berth out on the Rovers’ flank.
Referee: James McKell.
The last meeting between the sides at Turner’s Cross ended scoreless, while Rovers hammered Cork 3-0 at Tallaght Stadium last August.
Indeed, two of last season’s three meetings ended in a tie, with Rovers winning the third encounter.
Rovers last victory over the Rebels in Turners Cross came in June 2013 when James Chambers and Ronan Finn put the Hoops on course for victory before half-time. Shane Duggan scored for Cork after the break, but Rovers under the stewardship of Trevor Croly held on to prevail 2-1.
Cork City evens; Draw 11/5; Shamrock Rovers 13/5.
Cork City 3-1 Shamrock Rovers
Injuries: John Kavanagh, Eoghan O’Connell.
Doubtful: Stephen Dooley.
Suspended: Kenny Browne.
Injuries: David O’Connor.
Suspended: Gary McCabe.