Cork City and Waterford FC will be without key players in the coming weeks as the clubs were hit with combined bans totalling 19 matches for their roles in the brawl which marred the end of the Munster derby at the RSC last weekend.
The melee last Friday initiated when John Caulfield came on to the pitch to try to retrieve the ball as Waterford, leading 2-1, were delaying a restart in the game’s dying minutes.
Blues midfielder Bastien Hery pushed Caulfield to the ground, sparking an ugly melee involving players and staff from both sides.
Although there is no official confirmation, it’s understood the FAI disciplinary committee has meted out stiff punishments.
Rival bosses Caulfield and Alan Reynolds are both facing one-match bans. City’s Garry Buckley has been banned for three games while Steven Beattie, who has been recovering from injury and was an used sub on Friday, faces four games out.
Waterford are believed to have been hit even harder by the disciplinary decisions.
Hery has been banned for four games and Stanley Aborah will face six games out. Hery and Aborah have been two of the Blues standout performers this season.
Where applicable the bans include EA Sports Cup, with the sides meeting in the second round of that competition on April 23 at the RSC.
Unsavoury scenes marred the end of the Munster derby as Waterford defeated Cork City. Four players and two managers were dismissed on the night. pic.twitter.com/eAsHI2h05V— Soccer Republic (@SoccRepublic) April 9, 2018
City will not be contesting the disciplinary decisions.
Caulfield’s one-match ban will take effect for next Tuesday’s league match at home to Sligo Rovers, meaning he will be in the dugout this evening.
Having led from the off this season, City are now thrust into an unfamiliar position of chasing a points gap as they trail Waterford and Dundalk by two points.
In 2017, City didn’t drop points until being held to a draw by Galway in May, winning 12 games in a row, while their unbeaten run was only ended by Bohemians on July 31, when they were already out of sight in the Premier Division.
After two defeats this season, Caulfield isn’t panicking yet. “We’ve been in this position before, thankfully not too often,” said Caulfield.
“Historically over the last four or five years when we’ve lost we’ve bounced back very well. I just feel some of the lads who have come in have stood off a bit and maybe the lads that are here a couple of years they’re expecting them to lead the show — sometimes you have to grab it by the neck and drive on.”
Meanwhile City midfielder Conor McCormack says the captain’s armband has not become an added burden for him this season as he rallied his team-mates for tonight’s clash. McCormack, the team’s midfield general, cut a frustrated figure at times during the defeat at Waterford.
Powerless as he deflected home Waterford’s equaliser, McCormack was replaced late in the game as City chased the game. But the Carlingford man is not worried and insists he isn’t feeling the weight of expectation.
“Absolutely not,” he declared. “On the pitch you have to show a bit of leadership and extra responsibility.
“We’re alright. There’s only a quarter of the season gone and we’re only two points off the top... hopefully we cans set it right on Friday.”
Caulfield is certainly keeping faith in his captain.
“I haven’t seen anything to indicate the captaincy affect him, in fact the exact opposite. He’s been brilliant around the ground and the training area. In the majority of games he has been outstanding.”
Pat’s beat Bray 5-0 last weekend but bowed out of the EA Sports Cup on penalties after a 4-4 draw with Dundalk last Monday.
“Travelling to Turner’s Cross is always a very challenging prospect,” said Liam Buckley.
“We had a very close game with Cork City on the opening night of the season in Inchicore and we have to go into this game with the belief that we can get a result.”
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