Cork City manager John Caulfield is confident his charges will get back to business tonight and put down the first marker of a new winning streak.
City dropped their first points of the season in the 1-1 draw with Galway at Eamonn Deacy Park last weekend, after 12 straight wins, but Caulfield insists there will be no navel-gazing at Turner’s Cross tonight.
In fact, Caulfield believes in a 33-game season, the league’s squeaky bum time won’t arrive until October, and there will be no added pressure on the men in green this evening.
“The mood is fantastic,” said Caulfield. “The boys have started the season on fire. Are you going to go through a season and not drop points? Of course you aren’t. It’s about how you bounce back. Initially guys were disappointed but we’re doing fantastically well and we just have to keep driving on.
“You’re at the top and everyone wants to take you down. It’s just about keeping our momentum going. The atmosphere is fantastic, and why wouldn’t it be?”
A run of 12 wins and a draw still leaves Cork with breathing space to leading chasers Bray, some 12 points behind, and champions Dundalk, a further two points back. It’s a healthy situation heading into a run of three league games in a week ahead of the mid-season break, with a tricky trip to bogey side Sligo Rovers next Tuesday before the visit of Shamrock Rovers to Turner’s Cross next Friday night.
Caulfield made a direct appeal to fans to come out tonight as they look to get their title charge back on track.
“I’d just like to appeal to all our supporters we’ve only got two home games before the break, we want them to come out in force against Drogheda.
“It’s a massive game. The support this year has been phenomenal but we need huge numbers now going into a very tough week.”
City could be without midfield dynamo Gearóid Morrissey, who picked up a hip injury against Galway.
“Gearóid is struggling. He’s probably unlikely to play against Drogheda, he may be okay for Sligo. Steven Beattie has a problem with his ankle and is under pressure to make it. Karl Sheppard the same.”
Another man missing is April’s player of the month and scorer against Galway, Conor McCormack, the Louth man having picked up a one-match ban after accumulating five yellow cards this season.
Greg Bolger and Jimmy Keohane are both likely to be pushing for starts, and the City boss is confident he has the depth in his squad to ensure players coming in to more than plug the gaps.
“We’ve more quality this year but tighter numbers. Everybody on the bench, of course they want to play - I want to play myself! - if the team is winning and you’re not in it, of course you want to play.
“We’re a great club. everything around the club in the city and county is great. Cork is unique, it’s hard to explain unless you live down here. “Maybe that’s why so many people don’t like us: players love to play down here.”
Drogheda boss Pete Mahon believes his side can cause a shock at Turner’s Cross.
“No one is giving us a prayer but we believe in ourselves. Cork dropped points for the first time last week so maybe they’re at the start of a mini blip.”
Mahon confirmed that striker Gareth McCaffrey has left the club by mutual consent but Gavin Brennan is back from suspension tonight while former Ireland and Sunderland striker Stephen Elliott returns from injury.
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