Cork City manager Neale Fenn will encounter some old friends at Turner’s Cross tonight as the Rebel Army host Longford Town in the FAI Cup (7.45pm) but he doesn’t think a meeting with his former side will feel too strange.
City, bottom of the Premier Division, will look to get off to a winning campaign in the cup against the side they beat en route to the finals of 2017 and 2018, when Fenn was in charge.
With no visiting supporters at the Cross, it’s perhaps easier to avoid getting caught up in outside noise and Fenn is looking forward to trying to put one over former assistant Daire Doyle and his team.
“If I stay off social media and I don’t read anything on there, then it’s quite easy,” he said.
“If you flick on there, then it’s not easy. Obviously, I’m the former Longford manager and Daire was my assistant, the staff are still there and a lot of the players are the same.
“I know them inside out, most of them, I know the staff, but it won’t be too strange as this is my team now and I’m looking forward to putting one over them.”
Saturday’s scoreless draw at Waterford gave City their first away point of the season, though they remain bottom, level with Finn Harps. In that sense, the cup could be seen as a welcome interlude, but Fenn doesn’t see it that way.
“No, it’s not a nice distraction,” he said, “it’s just another game we want to win. We’re expected to win by most people, I don’t think any result other than a win would go down very well. It’s not a distraction for us, we have to win it.”
Last Tuesday, Fenn made 11 changes for the Munster Senior Cup final against Rockmount but the side chosen tonight will be stronger.
“I think you have to respect the FAI Cup and respect Longford. We haven’t got a huge squad where we have the luxury of resting players, especially with the lads getting injured on Saturday. We’ll be going as strong as we can with the players we have available and we’ll be ready.”
City are waiting to evaluate the fitness of Dáire O’Connor and Cory Galvin, both forced off in Saturday’s draw at the RSC, while Deshane Dalling and Alec Byrne missed out with niggles after starting the previous week against Bohemians.
Club captain Gearóid Morrissey hasn’t featured since the resumption of action, but Fenn is optimistic that the midfielder will be back soon.
“Gearóíd is coming along nicely and will be back in training this week,” he said.
In addition, the three attacking players that City have signed recently — Scott Fenwick, Kit Elliott and Connor Simpson – remain unavailable as they complete their quarantining.