The league title is within touching distance for Cork City but you wouldn’t think it judging by the poker faces around Bishopstown and Turner’s Cross this week.
City travel to Limerick for a Munster derby tonight knowing a victory and a failure by Dundalk to claim a win at home to Drogheda tonight would see the Leesiders confirmed as champions.
Cork could even have a second bite of the cherry to claim the title, as they host Stephen Kenny’s Dundalk on Monday at Turner’s Cross.
It’s a matter of time, isn’t it?
Not a bit of it, says City player Steven Beattie. “All the talk of winning streaks and this and that — it’s just the next three points. That’s how it it is and that’s how we approach it.” said the Dubliner.
“Nobody has mentioned Dundalk. It’s just Friday. You’d be a silly man to look beyond that.
“This is where we need the fans. It’s a great occasion and we can get three points closer to the title. It’s 12 years since this city has won the title, we know how much it means to people.
“All we’re concentrating on is Friday, a massive game for the players, for the staff, and for the city. We’ve had a week off, now we’re all excited and raring to go.
“Limerick are fighting for their lives and we’re trying to win the title, what more do you want?”
Neil McDonald’s Limerick FC are scrapping for their lives, hovering just two points above the drop zone as the battle for survival hits squeaky bum time. The sides will meet again in the FAI Cup semi-final at the end of the month, but Limerick skipper and former Cork player Shane Duggan said this week the Blues would gladly swap cup spoils for Premier Division survival.
“We all want to stay up in the Premier Division. We have Cork here in the league and that should be a cracking game of football and then we have Cork again in the cup semi-finals but, as I say, the main priority for us is staying up and we look on the cup semi-final at Turner’s Cross on Friday week as a bonus,” Duggan told the Evening Echo.
Cork assistant manager John Cotter understands that mindset. “Limerick will be motivated by trying to stay in the league. If they take their eye off it, that’s their problem. Our objective is different,” said Cotter.
Limerick could have four former City players starting tonight.
As well as skipper Duggan, Neil McDonald’s squad features City legend John O’Flynn, Stephen Kenny, and Chiedozie Ogbene, who turned down a contract extension at City to move to Limerick. Ogbene scored a spectacular goal at Bray last week to grab a precious point for the Shannonsiders and will doubtless be looking to get one over his old side.
Cotter welcomes the added incentive to the Munster derby. “These are the game you want to be involved in. If there’s no spice it’s not worth playing in,” he said.
Cork will give late fitness checks to Alan Bennett and Garry Buckley, while Beattie and Stephen Dooley should overcome knocks to feature at Markets Field.
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