City hopeful O'Flynn will extend his contract

CORK CITY are hopeful centre-forward John O'Flynn will follow the example of his centre-back colleague, Dan Murray and will extend his contract with the club beyond the next two seasons.

Murray, signed on loan from Peterborough United on the recommendation of O'Flynn, is seeking to persuade Peterborough to allow him stay with Cork next season. City are hoping O'Flynn will follow suit as they seek to build on this season's progress.

Reports that upwards of seven cross-channel clubs have requested regular reports on O'Flynn's scoring exploits can largely be attributed to the activity of scouts working around the Eircom League clubs.

Goal-scorers are always in demand and it was inevitable that O'Flynn's spree with Cork since he returned from Peterborough last summer would command attention. He has scored 15 goals in the Premier division and five more in the FAI Carlsberg Cup.

His impact in his first season has been sensational and led to international recognition at U21 level when he played as substitute against Switzerland in Kilkenny.

Playing in the Eircom League brought him more attention than he had received in several seasons at Peterborough.

Cork City manager Liam Murphy is hoping this level of success with Cork will ensure that O'Flynn will not easily be attracted to the cross-channel game but he accepts that, if a club of substance come in with a fair offer, Cork will help rather than hinder a transfer:

"The ambition of playing on a full-time basis with a first-class club across-channel is what drives him on and we have to respect that. He wants to make a career at the highest level and that's an honourable aspiration.

"From a selfish point of view, of course, I hope he stays with us. He has experience now of the game in England and he knows what clubs are in a position to offer him a good future so I do not expect that every club mentioned would attract him."

O'Flynn, still only 20 years of age, has time on his side: "I am a little flattered to have so many clubs showing an interest, but it would need to be a very decent offer to take me away from Cork."

Aberdeen is one of the clubs reportedly interested in the Cobh-born striker and the others are Stoke City, Mansfield Town, QPR, Stockport County and Wigan Athletic.

O'Flynn recently extended his contract with Cork to cover the next two seasons. A transfer fee would be

needed to secure his release from Cork and when you consider that Dunfermline recently paid Shamrock Rovers £150,000 for Noel Hunt, it would have to be substantial.

Meanwhile O'Flynn and Murray will be seeking to help Cork secure a place in European competition next Summer when they play leading rivals for this spot, Shamrock Rovers, at Turner's Cross tonight (7.45 ko).

Murphy has a full squad to choose from with Greg O'Halloran returning after a one-match ban against Bray Wanderers two weeks ago and midfield player Alan Bennett recovered after missing that game through illness.

Cork beat Bray 3-1 with O'Flynn scoring all their goals but while they finished strongly after the teams were level 1-1 early in the second half, that performance will not have given Murphy complete satisfaction.

He accepts they will have to play better if they are to overcome Shamrocks who lost 2-3 at Turner's Cross early in the season and then won comfortably 4-2 when Cork repaid that visit in November.

Shamrock Rovers must plan without their Malta international Luke Dimech who is suspended, but Richie Byrne is available again after suspension and he will return, probably in Dimech's position in midfield.

Byrne, more recognised as a left-back, was playing regularly at centre-back prior to his suspension but in his absence Stephen McGuinness returned to play his first match against Bray last week-end after five months absence because of injury.

McGuinness will partner Terry Palmer at centre-back as Rovers seek to hold on to third position in the League. They and Cork are on 28 points while Cork have one match in hand, their away tie against Longford Town which is set for Monday.

"We are taking this match very seriously which is why we are travelling to Cork the night before the game," said Rovers' manager Liam Buckley. "It is a big match for both teams and if we get a result here and against Derry in the Brandywell next week then it will set us up nicely."

One of the most important of the other games in tonight's programme is that in which bray Wanderers will play Derry City at the Carlisle Grounds with time running out for Bray as they seek to avoid relegation.

Bray have three matches left and must bridge a gap of six points with the rest if they are to effect a great escape. But their prospects are not helped by doubts about the fitness of John Walsh, Eamonn Zayed and Jason Byrne, all three of whom were injured as they lost 1-3 to Shamrock Rovers.

Tonight's fixtures:

Eircom League, Premier Division (7.45pm unless otherwise stated): Cork City v Shamrock Rovers, Turner's Cross; Bray Wanderers v Derry City, Carlisle Grounds; St. Patrick's Athletic v Longford Town, Richmond Park; Drogheda United v UCD, 02 Park 8pm.

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