The delirious scenes in Cardiff on Monday night whetted Alan Bennett’s appetite for a repeat tomorrow evening in Dalymount Park.
Cork City can secure the Premier Division title with three games to spare with a win over Bohemians. And there is no sense that veteran Bennett would prefer to wait for a home coronation when City face Derry at Turner’s Cross on Monday.
Indeed, he’d happily have taken a low-key conclusion to the club’s quest last Saturday, had Dundalk stumbled in Ballybofey.
“I was out for a walk when Finn Harps were playing Dundalk and I would have taken it right there and then. I’m 36 now and I don’t really care,” Bennett told RedFM.
“Any Cork City diehard will just say ‘give me that title’. Twelve years is a long time for a club of this size to be waiting around for a league title.
“Watching the Ireland game, there were 3,000 Irish fans celebrating with the Irish team. You see those celebrations, you start thinking that could be us on Friday night and that gets you excited and up for the game. Not that you need any more motivation.”
After tomorrow’s hosts ended a 22-match unbeaten start to the campaign, it has taken longer than many expected for City to cross the finish line, as form dipped in the wake of Seanie Maguire and Kevin O’Connor departing for Preston and captain John Dunleavy’s injury.
But the league draw against Dundalk and cup semi-final win over Limerick have restored Leeside spirits. That leaves a third successive FAI Cup final meeting on the spin with Dundalk to look forward to, following Stephen Kenny’s side’s 4-2 extra-time win over Shamrock Rovers on Tuesday.
But first City must seal the title deal, with two points required from the remaining four fixtures.
“I don’t think many Cork City fans will worry about the time waiting for it if we can just get it,” Bennett said. “The two performances Limerick and Dundalk were back to where we were.
“Before that, it was rejigging a few things in a few positions, a few personnel changes. Which is natural when you lose three players out of the team.
“It’s pretty much touching distance. All the way along I just wanted the opportunity to have it in our own hands. Now it’s crystal clear, nice and clean, there it is, go achieve what you want to achieve.”
It has been a career Indian summer for the powerful centre-half since he rejoined City from Wimbledon at the beginning for 2015.
“It’s been amazing. The club has gone from strength to strength, on and off the pitch, organisation-wise. The work that (manager) John (Caulfield) does is massive. He’s really setting rock-solid foundations for this football club.
“That’s the foundation and that’s the club that John will recruit into in the summer and push us on and make us stronger again next year.”
Still looking forward, though the stand-in skipper hasn’t yet spared a thought for a trophy presentation, and whether he or Dunleavy would lift the big prize.
“I’ve no idea. I haven’t thought about it. I don’t care who puts it up. That’s all for another day. Honestly, I just want to go and win the game and get it done.”
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