SSE Airtricity League Premier Division Dundalk v Cork City Friday: Oriel Park, 7.45pm
Cork City have migrated to Coláiste Stiofáin Naofa college for training this week to prepare for Friday night’s SSE Airtricity League Premier Division title decider against Dundalk.
Dundalk’s home ground, Oriel Park, utilises a Field Turf pitch and John Caulfield’s side have trained on the all-weather pitches at the college in a bid to acclimatise.
“The situation is that 99% of your football is played on grass and then you have to go to an all-weather pitch,” he said.
“We’re training on an all-weather pitch this week, the crucial thing is to get used to the bounce and the pace of the ball because it’s slower than on grass.
“I’ve said all year professional football shouldn’t be played on pitches like that — and it’s nothing to do with Dundalk, because they’re a fantastic team and a great club with a top manager — but we won’t be making any excuses, we know the scenario.
“The last time [when City lost 4-0 to Dundalk in May], there were quite a few players didn’t train and we left Colin [Healy] out as well. Some players mightn’t be able to play for a couple of weeks after a game on a surface like that. In the middle of the season you have to look at that responsibility, whereas after Friday they can go on holidays, it won’t be an issue.”
City have injury doubts over Josh O’Shea, Ross Gaynor and Gearóid Morrissey, with the latter two rated as 50-50 to play. The way the squad players have performed when called upon of late has impressed Caulfield, however.
“All the lads that have come in have done fantastically,” he said.
“Michael McSweeney came in last week against Bohs and they hardly got a cross in. John Kavanagh has come in the last three weeks having not played with a while, Rob Lehane and David O’Leary coming on.
“I know we’ve had a strong group of 13 or 14, but the lads who’ve been brought in to build up the panel have all done great.
“Maybe that’s why there’s such a bond and a real strength in the squad, the guys who come in know what to do and they do the best that they can. You can’t ask for anything more.”
Friday’s game is a sellout, with Dundalk having posted the full-house signs at Oriel Park yesterday. Cork City’s allocation of approximately 600 tickets was exhausted on Monday.
l Cork City’s Colin Healy and Dundalk duo Patrick Hoban and Richie Towell are in the hunt for the 2014 PFA Ireland Player of the Year award.
St Patrick’s Athetic’s Christy Fagan is also nominated for the award.
The awards will take place on Friday, November 7 at the Gibson Hotel in Dublin.
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