Last month’s 1-0 Premier Division defeat at Oriel Park was Cork City’s first loss to Dundalk since October 2016.
The unbeaten run had taken in seven games — three in the league last year as well as two FAI Cup finals and President’s Cups — and the 1-0 reversal started a turnaround which saw Dundalk go from four points behind City to two ahead before the Rebel Army pulled level again last Friday.
Ahead of tomorrow night’s clash between the sides at Turner’s Cross (7.15pm), City midfielder Gearóid Morrissey admits that the pain of defeat is something which is bottled, ready to use as a motivating spark.
“A lot of things happen automatically,” he says, “I think that’s one of them.
“It hurts you. To lose in anything it hurts you, but especially when there’s a bit of rivalry. Like last season, there was this and that in the papers and all these kinds of things going on.
“I think it just fuels the fire inside you to say, ‘Right, we need to perform here’. It gives you that bit of sharpness. I think you need that.
“You need something in the locker to energise you and keep you going, ‘Right, that’s not happening again’.”
Dundalk and City have occupied the top two spots in the league for the past four seasons as well as meeting in the FAI Cup finals in 2015, 2016 and 2017. City lead the cup count 2-1 and trail 3-1 in the league tallies, but Morrissey feels they’re ready to show that last year’s title win was a significant swing in the momentum.
“I think if we’re at it collectively and if every player ups their game, I think we’re the best team in the country,” he says.
“I’d have full confidence in us to go and put in a performance against anybody and come out with three points. It’s just a case of everybody putting in the work during the week with John [Caulfield] and, come Friday night, we’ll be ready to go. I’d have full confidence in us.”
With the teams so evenly matched, the atmosphere generated by a raucous home support could be key.
“Playing in Turner’s Cross, we buzz off it,” he says.
“When you’re coming in, there’s queues outside the gate. I was going there as a young fella and now as a player, the buzz is great when you’re going into the ground. It’s very local. You go into the shop the day before the game and everybody’s onto you about it.
“Turner’s Cross is special. You can play in Tallaght or you can play wherever, in any ground in the country. When Bohs play Rovers, it looks like a decent atmosphere but I don’t think it comes near Turner’s Cross when there’s a top-of-the-table clash and it’s sold out. The atmosphere is brilliant.”
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