Significant because, although the league season is only two games old, joint leaders Derry are the ones making the early running while Cork are struggling to find the net as they seek their first home win under manager Alan Mathews.
Tuesday night’s scoreless draw with Drogheda United in the Setanta Cup was another case of one that got away for a City side which couldn’t translate its dominance on the pitch into goals.
“That was the only thing we lacked on the night,” Mathews concedes. “The players are working hard and we are creating opportunities, it’s just a matter of taking those chances. What we need to start doing now is convert our possession and our quality into goals and start winning games.”
Full back Danny Murphy is back for Cork after being suspended against Drogheda, with Gareth Farrelly (knee) and Billy Woods (ankle) the only absentees.
Derry will seek permission from the FAI to bring in an extra goalkeeper after Irish U21 international Darren Quigley broke a bone in his wrist, an injury which will sideline him for up to six weeks. Ger Doherty will replace Quigley tonight but Candystripes boss Stephen Kenny is bereft of back-up, with Eugene Ferry also injured and Ola Tidman on loan in Norway until June. 17-year-old Paul Simon Tracey has been drafted in as goalkeeping cover. Meanwhile, Peter Hutton suffered a slight groin strain in training but is still expected to feature tonight.
Noting that victory invariably goes to the home side in the battle of the north and south cities, Kenny says of Turner’s Cross: “It’s a great place to play and a great challenge but we can’t have any fear about going there. We have to see this as an opportunity to keep our unbeaten record going.”
Third-placed Shamrock Rovers are another side looking to build on a strong start as they welcome Bray Wanderers to Tolka Park (kick off 8pm). Having shocked champions Drogheda away and held Cork City at home, Pat Scully’s young team are once again confounding all expectations other than their own. And Scully means to keep it that way.
“There’s a big motivating factor to go out and win this game and gain all three points,” he says. “We want to get ourselves as close as possible to the top of the table. I’ll be looking for a very strong performance. A win would mean that we have gotten off to a reasonable start to the season.”
Tadhg Purcell returns for the Hoops having served a one-match suspension and, while both Dessie Baker and Danny O’Connor succumbed to a vomiting bug during the week, the hope is that they will be fit for the fray.
Meanwhile, Finn Harps, who opened their Premier Division campaign by beating Cobh before going down to north-west rivals Derry, face another side who have won one and lost one when they host UCD (kick off 8pm).
Said Harps boss Paul Hegarty: “If we put in performances like we had in certain stages in Derry then we are in with a chance. However, in the Premier Division, a lack of concentration will cost you and we have to make sure that we get rid of those errors.”