Cobh Ramblers captain John Kavanagh insists his side won’t be daunted in tonight’s trip to unbeaten First Division leaders Shelbourne.
The closest the Reds came to defeat in any of their 16 games so far was at St Colman’s Park in May when Cobh missed a penalty when 1-0 ahead. Instead, the visitors recovered to win 2-1.
The Rams are seventh in the First Division and under new management since Stuart Ashton was replaced last week. Caretaker boss Darren Murphy oversaw victory on his first assignment since being promoted from the U19s role, Sunday’s cup victory at Liffey Wanderers, but Shels present a far sterner test.
They have scored the most (34), conceded the least (13) and have a seemingly unassailable 11-point lead. Securing promotion with plenty of games to spare is the aim of a side managed by Ian Morris, assisted by Alan Reynolds.
For Cobh, with the play-off places stretching to fifth, there’s lots of scope to keep alive their hopes of featuring in the promotion mix alive.
Former Cork City and Waterford defender Kavanagh, recently returned from injury, feels back-to-back wins and clean sheets – against Liffey and Cabinteely before that – bode well for the task awaiting at Tolka Park.
“There’s no tougher place to go than Shelbourne but we’ve reason to fear them,” said the 27-year-old.
“We’ll give them the respect they deserve. We’ll have our game-plan and hope to execute that as best we can.
“It’s easy to say now but if we’d scored that penalty to go 2-0 up in May, it would have been a different game. Shels equalised through a deflection and took their chances to win.
“We didn’t have a settled back four throughout the season because of injury and suspension, so it’s been a big plus to have that in the past two matches. That was our foundation in the second half of last season. We’ve to build on the clean sheets and wins, getting more confidence as we go.
“To have any chance this year, we have to finish the season strongly. We’ve 10 games left after Friday but that game against Shels is the most important.”
Meanwhile Cork City yesterday secured the signing of former Shamrock Rovers midfielder Aaron Bolger, while also confirming Sean Kennedy has signed his first professional contract with the club. Bolger joins on the back of a loan spell with Longford.
City host UCD at Turner’s Cross tonight (7.30pm).
In the Premier Division, Drogheda host Waterford tonight (7.45pm) while first meets second as champions Shamrock Rovers host St Pat’s in a Dublin derby (8pm).
First Division fixtures (7.45pm unless stated): Bray Wanderers v Galway United, 7.30pm; Cabinteely v Bra ; Cork City v UCD, Athlone Town v Treaty Utd, Shelbourne v Cobh Ramblers.