Not everything will be sunny in the South-East this evening as Cork City and Waterford bid for a much-needed SSE Airtricity League Premier Division victory to lift dark clouds hanging over both clubs.
John Caulfield brings his City side to the RSC this evening desperate for a victory to ease the building pressure surrounding the Leesiders. City are without a league win since beating Bohs in mid-March, and need to arrest the slide to reinvigorate a crumbling season.
“We’re very tight knit, everyone is working really hard,” said Caulfield. “I believe in these guys. We can see the talent. There’s a number of players out injured but there’s no excuse.
“We know in the last two games we’ve let games slip (City conceded a last-minute equaliser to St Patrick’s Athletic last Friday while they conceded a last-minute winner to UCD last Monday). Guys are disappointed for the supporters because of the results but there’s no hiding place.”
Caulfield is the most successful manager in City’s history and he reminded supporters of that this week, as his own position comes into the spotlight amid growing unrest at Turner’s Cross. “The team have been in the top two the last five years, we were in four cup finals, a double, back-to-back cups, Europe every year,” said Caulfield.
“If there’s someone out there can bring the club to another level, fine, all I know is we can do our best and our best for the past five years has been incredibly strong.”
City are without Colm Horgan, Cian Murphy, Alan Bennett, Karl Sheppard, and Dáire O’Connor, while Garry Comerford is suspended.
Waterford have their own problems, most worryingly off the pitch, with a statement from the FAI last night confirming they will not be eligible to take part in European competition on the basis the club has breached Uefa club licencing rules.
This is on the basis that owner Lee Power’s takeover of the old Waterford United in 2016 involved setting up a new club the following season, which under Uefa rules mean they could not compete in European competition for three years
The statement read: “The Football Association of Ireland can confirm it has received notification from Uefa’s Licensing Department that Waterford FC’s exception request has been rejected on the non-fulfilment of the three-year rule as defined in the Uefa Club Licensing and Financial Fair Play Regulations.
“Uefa has informed the FAI that, following the Club Financial Control Body-Investigatory Chamber decision in this case, Waterford FC may not apply for a Uefa licence for the Uefa Club Competitions for the season 2019/20.”
This could have devastating consequences for the Blues, the setback likely to cost them at least €250,000.
On the pitch, the have only gained a point themselves in their last three games — a scoreless draw with Sligo in their outing — and Alan Reynolds will be desperate to get back to winning ways himself.
“We were excellent in Turner’s Cross at the start of the season and we thoroughly deserved the points,” said Reynolds. “That’s the kind of performance we’re going to need again.”
First meet second at the Brandywell this evening as leaders Shamrock Rovers travel to take on rejuvenated Derry City. Rovers have been in scintillating form, but will be without injured defender Ethan Boyle and influential midfielder Greg Bolger. “This will be one of our toughest games of the season but the players at the moment feel like they can play anyone, home or away and go and get a result,” said Rovers coach Stephen Bradley.
Liam Buckley returns to his old club this evening as Sligo Rovers take on St Patrick’s Athletic in Richmond Park.
Rovers drew 0-0 with Waterford last Monday but beat Dundalk 2-1 in their previous outing. Striker Ronan Murray serves the third of a four-game ban for the the Bit O’Red tonight.
With Pat Hoban scoring a crucial late goal to snatch victory over Bohemians last Monday, champions Dundalk will hope to use that to kickstart their season. The Lilywhites host a winless Finn Harps side who are already in danger of being cut adrift. Patrick McEleney and Chris Shields returned from injury in the win against Bohs to the delight of first team coach John Gill.
“Getting Patrick and Chris gave everyone a lift. We knew that we would run into some difficulty with the lads out but we have them back now.”
A Dublin derby at Dalymount this evening sees Bohemians host UCD.
“UCD have come on a lot and will keep improving,” warned Bohs midfielder Keith Ward. “They like to play the right way and will be tough opposition.”