While the SSE Airtricity League top two of Dundalk and Derry are, respectively, away to Bohemians and at home to Sligo Rovers, probably the most eye-catching Premier Division fixture this evening sees third play fifth, as Cork City host St Patrick’s Athletic at Turner’s Cross.
City go into the game on the back of successive home victories over Finn Harps and Shamrock Rovers, while Pat’s were shocked by Bray Wanderers last time out.
“It’s a huge game against another of the title contenders,” says Cork boss John Caulfield. “But we have two wins under our belt and hopefully we can continue that momentum into the game this evening.
“We are a different team to what we were last year - there are more goals in this team. There is still a bit of work to do, but the team is beginning to shape up and I would hope there is a lot more to come.”
Kenny Browne returns from suspension to face his former club but Eoghan O’Connell and John Kavanagh miss out, while there are doubts over Karl Sheppard and Alan Bennett, both of whom are struggling with knocks.
For Pat’s, striker Christy Fagan will undergo a late fitness test after he was forced out of the 1-0 defeat at the Carlisle Grounds while, in the absence of both Brendan Clarke (suspended) and Conor O’Malley (ankle), Pat Jennings Jnr – the club’s veteran goalkeeping coach who shares his famous father’s name – will deputise between the sticks.
“Friday’s game is set to be a really tough game for us as we’re facing one of the top sides in the country,” says Saints manager Liam Buckley. “John Caulfield has a very strong squad and Turner’s Cross is always a great venue to play in as Cork are a very well-supported side.
“We’ll be looking to go and compete with them. They play good football so it should be a good game for the neutral.
Following last week’s defeat, we need to try and put things right.
I felt we were a little unlucky, but we still need to improve on a few things so we’ve been working hard on putting them right in training this week.”
Meanwhile, Cork City will face Wolves in a friendly on Monday, July 18. Wolves will be in Ireland from July 17th to the 22nd as part of their pre-season preparations and will be based at the Fota Island Resort. Manager Kenny Jackett said:
“It is a good training base, with excellent facilities, and the Republic of Ireland team will be using the same base before they go to the European Championships - that shows you the quality of the place.
“It will be a good fixture for us to play against Cork City at the start of the week, as we continue our preparations for the new season.”
Meanwhile, tonight’s other Premier Division games are: Galway United v Longford Town, Eamonn Deacy Park, Shamrock Rovers v Bray Wanderers, Tallaght Stadium (8pm) and Wexford Youths v Finn Harps, Ferrycarrig Park (8pm).
And in the First Division, it’s Drogheda United v Cobh Ramblers, United Park and Shelbourne v Athlone Town, Tolka Park.
Games kick off at 7.45pm unless otherwise indicated.
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