When the Cork City players cross the white line at Turner’s Cross tonight, they will see the effects of Hurricane Ophelia and feel the hand of history on their shoulders.
The partial collapse of the roof of the 1,200-seat Derrynane Road Stand caused by yesterday’s storm means that, with the affected section of the ground made safe but out of bounds, capacity will be reduced to 6,000 for a game against Derry City which will evoke memories of the night 12 years ago when Cork won their second title by beating the same opponents 2-0 in the same ground.
Centre-half Alan Bennett is a survivor of that side, as is Liam Kearney who scored the second goal against Derry and is now on City’s coaching staff.
The big difference is that whereas City needed a win to overtake Derry and claim the glittering prize in 2005, this time around they need just one point from their final three games to lift the third title in the club’s history and also deny Dundalk four in a row.
“We have three games to go and it’s in our own hands,” said City boss John Caulfield. “If we keep a clean sheet tonight then we win the league, whether we score or not. Obviously, Derry are very potent up front with the players they have and we have to be on our guard. At the same time, we would love to score ourselves.”
Derry boss Kenny Shiels said earlier yesterday that, with his team unable to train since arriving in Cork on Sunday, he felt the game should not go ahead tonight.
However, upon inspecting the damage to the stand, he accepted, reluctantly, the decision to play the game this evening, for which he will have Jamie McIntyre, Nicky Low, and Dean Jarvis back in contention.
For City, Steven Beattie returns from a one-match suspension but there are concerns over Alan Bennett, Kieran Sadlier and Karl Sheppard, who all picked up knocks in Friday’s draw with Bohs.
Despite the disruption and uncertainty over the last 24 hours, Caulfield is sure it will be an occasion to relish.
“Every team is raising their game against us and we have to be prepared for that,” he said. “That said, where else would you want to be?”
Even with tonight’s reduced capacity, Turner’s Cross will be able to accommodate all those who had bought tickets before yesterday’s damage was inflicted. Kick off at the ground this evening is at the earlier time of 7.20pm to facilitate live television coverage of the game on RTÉ 2.
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