Kenny denies trying to steal advantage on Cork City

BOHEMIANS’ manager Stephen Kenny yesterday dismissed suggestions that they were attempting to steal an advantage on Cork City by insisting on their Eircom League tie being played tonight at Dalymount Park, a day earlier than was planned.

"Our move was dictated simply by the Christmas festivities," he said, "we came to the conclusion that we might get up to 2,000 more spectators on Thursday rather than Friday.

"The Friday night before Christmas is a night when many businesses have their Christmas party and the feed-back we were getting from our fans was that it was not a good night for a match. Moving it to Thursday seemed good business, there was nothing more than that involved."

Cork's manager Liam Murphy was annoyed at the change of date because they have ongoing reservations to

travel by air to Dublin on Fridays and their players with jobs had already made arrangements to be released from work on Friday. As well, they figured the extra day was important in their recovery from a return trip to Drogheda on Sunday.

Cork will travel without midfielder Alan Reynolds because he is suspended for one game. Conor O'Grady is recovered from injury, but because he has not played for several weeks he is unlikely to be involved even though he would be a natural replacement.

Michael Mulconry and Neal Horgan received treatment on ankle injuries this week but should be okay, but while Colin T O'Brien has put his hamstring injury behind him he is also short of match practice.

Cork's loss of two points in Drogheda was a setback and with six series of matches to go their prospects of catching Bohs have disappeared. Their concern now is that Shelbourne, in second place and four points ahead of them, might open up a gap that will prove too difficult to bridge and with Shamrock Rovers just three points behind them there is very definite pressure on them to take something from Dalymount.

Bohs manager Stephen Kenny would not tolerate the suggestion that complacency might begin to set in at Dalymount Park, so substantial is their lead at the head of the table.

"Absolutely not" was his prompt response to the query, as if it was something approaching sacrilege to talk of the league championship title, "we are only looking ahead to Cork and to the need to win that."

Kenny said he was quite satisfied with Bohs recent form but he summed up their experiences by saying: "We have been playing very well generally but we were only okay against Shamrock Rovers even though we managed to win the game.

"We played extremely well in beating Bray but the match against Shamrock Rovers was different, it was a typical derby match and rather helter-skelter. Bohs will not need reminding of their experiences against Cork this season or of the difficulty they had in coping with them. Both their matches finished level 1-1.

Said Kenny: "We had two very open games with Cork and that is not surprising. Cork play good football, they have good players as we have and both teams like to get the ball down and pass it.

"We had the lion's share of the game against Cork at Dalymount but we had to depend upon a late goal to equalise. Cork were always dangerous on the break against us.

"Then in Cork we seemed to have their measure but when they lost a player they seemed to play better. What the matches showed was that there was very little difference between the two teams.

Kenny has lots of admiration for Cork's speedy three front-runners George O'Callaghan, John O'Flynn and Billy Woods. He said: "We will have to play very well to win it because Cork are always capable of scoring. They have great pace up front and they know where the goal is."

There is no doubt but that Bohs will win the title and a win here would go a long way to making their eventual triumph a foregone conclusion. Nothing short of a quick and total collapse would be enough to encourage others to sustain hope of an upset. What is equally certain is that this should be a bright and entertaining game.

"Dalymount's big pitch should help make it a good game," said Kenny. "Cork will enjoy the wide spaces and it promises to be a good game of football. Bohs will have to make a change in defence because centre-back Colin Hawkins is suspended for this game and Jason McGuinness, capped at U21 level this season, is suffering from a pulled hamstring.

Paul McNally, another of their centre-backs, has not played for several weeks because of injury, but he stepped up his work in training this week in an effort to be fit to partner Derek Coughlan.

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