Cork and Dundalk take their battle to the break

Premier Division top spot going into the mid-season break is what’s at stake in the SSE Airtricity League this evening as leaders Cork City host Bohemians, while Dundalk, just a point behind the defending champions, travel to Derry.

Dundalk defender Sean Hoare with his SSE Airtricity/SWAI Player of the Month award for May. Pic: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

Winning momentum and a 100% home record for Cork City contrasts with the stuttering form of a Bohs team who are without a victory in four games, but Rebels manager John Caulfield regards tonight’s visitors as “stubborn, awkward” opposition.

“We are in a great run of form, having won our last six games,” he said. “We have won 10 in a row at home and only conceded three times, but Bohs are a stubborn, awkward side. 

"They beat us down here last year when we were on a fantastic run of form.

“We’d love to go into the break on top of the table and, if we play to our form, I believe we will win. But if we are not at our best, there is always the danger we will drop points.”

One man on his way out of Turner’s Cross is defender Tobi Adebayo-Rowling, who transferred to Cork from Sligo last November but failed to break into the first team. Yesterday he signed for Bromley in England’s lower leagues.

If City trip up tonight, Dundalk will be looking to profit with a win at the Brandywell which would see them leapfrog their rivals at the top.

Having just been crowned SSE Airtricity/SWAI Player of the Month for May, Sean Hoare is looking forward to the game but also to the opportunity to take a breather after a taxing first half of the season.

The break is coming at a good time and it is giving us all a chance to rest up and recharge but we are focused on the game this evening. We know it won’t be easy but we are playing well and with confidence and hopefully we can go get the win to take it into the break.

The Candystripes’ win at Dalymount last weekend gave the team a much-needed lift but manager Kenny Shiels knows that, especially with injury and suspension absentees, his players will have their work cut out against the high-flying Lilywhites.

“We’re struggling,” he said. “We’ve lost Ronan Curtis and Nicky Low’s suspension is a real blow on top of that. 

"Gavin (Peers) and Jamie (McDonagh) are both doubtful so while things aren’t great we have to stay focused. Dundalk are a quality side so we will have to dig deep.”

Elsewhere in the top-flight this evening, Preston North End-bound Graham Burke plays his last game for Shamrock Rovers away to Limerick, basement dwellers Bray Wanderers host Waterford at the Carlisle Grounds and St Patrick’s Athletic and manager Liam Buckley urgently need a pick-me-up win at home to Sligo Rovers.

In the First Division, meanwhile, it’s Cobh Ramblers v Athlone Town, St. Colman’s Park; Longford Town v Drogheda United, City Calling Stadium; Shelbourne v Cabinteely, Tolka Park; Finn Harps v UCD, Finn Park (8pm) and Wexford v Galway United, Ferrycarrig Park (8pm). Games kick off at 7.45pm unless otherwise indicated.

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