The defending champions will also be putting a 100% home record and a four-game winning streak to the test against a side who, in stark contrast, have recently suffered a major slump in form.
“We are at home, we are hoping for another big crowd and it is a real opportunity for us to go back top again, so there are lots of incentives,” says Cork boss John Caulfield. “Derry are dark horses, they have tremendous players. Their form in the last few weeks has been iffy but we played them in the Brandywell five weeks ago and had a very close match which ended 0-0. They create chances, so we must make sure we give a top performance.”
While skipper Conor McCormack is suspended for the home side, Derry boss Kenny Shiels is pleased to have Rory Patterson back from suspension as the Candystripes look to arrest a slide which most recently saw them lose 2-0 to Sligo Rovers.
“You could see what Rory’s presence gives us when he wasn’t there on Friday night,” says Shiels. “He has a fantastic work-rate and we missed that against Sligo.”
The club confirmed this week that Dapo Kayode has left the Brandywell by mutual consent but Shiels is anxious to reassure supporters that help is on the way, including the imminent signing of his own son Dean.
“He will give us good options for a busy second half of the season and will provide a bit of experience,” he says. “I can assure supporters the club is working hard to bring in what we need. There will be positive news in the coming weeks, I’m fairly certain. I hope our supporters will remember that this is pretty much the same team that went 10 matches unbeaten a few weeks ago. There are a few more tired limbs at the minute but we’ll get through that.”
Meanwhile, the Professional Footballers’ Association of Ireland (PFAI) and Limerick FC are scheduled to meet at 10am this morning amid fears the current financial crisis at the club could see an exodus of top players and a move to part-time football.
Limerick players were told by club officials in the dressing room less than two hours before last Friday’s 1-1 draw with Bohemians at the Markets Field that there was no money to pay their salaries for May until sponsors’ cheques cleared. Goalkeeper Brendan Clarke said that the squad discussed amongst themselves whether they would then take to the field against Bohs.
“We decided there was no point in making a bad situation worse,” he explained. “We also said to anyone that if they didn’t feel they could give 100% — not for the club, for the players next to them in that dressing room — they didn’t have to play at all.” The team’s subsequent performance, according to Clarke, should “leave no supporter, commentator or analyst questioning the character or integrity of the squad.”
Second from bottom Limerick travel to face Dundalk in Oriel Park next Friday.
(Premier Division) Cork City v Derry City, Turner’s Cross, 3pm. (First Division) Cabinteely v Athlone Town, Stradbrook, 3pm; Finn Harps v Longford Town, Finn Park, 5pm; Shelbourne v Drogheda United, Tolka Park, 5pm; Cobh Ramblers v Galway United, St. Colman’s Park, 7.15pm.