Out of the frying pan, into the fire: after losing their opening game at home to promoted Shelbourne last week, Cork City tomorrow night face the daunting task of taking on FAI Cup-winners and predicted title contenders Shamrock Rovers in the new-look side’s their first away test of the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division season.
Two goals inside the opening 33 minutes from Rafael Ratão and Aleksandar Čavrić killed the game as a contest and while the Lilywhites never gave up, even briefly threatening a mini-revival when Michael Duffy pulled one back midway through the second half, this ultimately proved a challenge too far.
The story goes that Jose Mourinho once hid in a laundry basket to brief his players covertly and get around a matchday suspension, but manager John Caulfield won’t be going to such lengths when Cork City host Sligo Rovers in their SSE Airtricity Premier Division clash at Turner’s Cross this evening (7.45pm).
And so Irish sport’s answer to the Winter Olympics — otherwise known as the League of Ireland summer season — comes around again, the burning passion of the faithful set to go head to head with the piercing February chill on this long-awaited opening night.
Dundalk manager Stephen Kenny insists his side remain in a “good position” to qualify for the knock-out stages of the Europa League despite being left cursing their luck for the second time in a fortnight after losing out to Zenit St Petersburg in a snow-covered Petrovsky Stadium last night.
After Dundalk had taken a giant step towards a third successive league title by beating Longford Town 3-0 on Monday night, Stephen Kenny surveyed a dressing room which resembled a field hospital more than a party zone, with players stretched out on benches nursing injuries or simply laid low by sheer fatigue, as a fourth game in 10 days took its toll.