‘Rebel Kante’ says invincibility has not crossed Cork City minds

Conor McCormack insists there’s no talk of records or invincibility in the Cork City dressing room, despite the runaway league leaders’ remarkable haul of maximum points with over a third of the season gone.

“People can talk about it but that’s not something that has crossed my mind,” he says. “We’re not thinking about records. We want to look back at the end of this season and be able to say it was successful. There is always someone ready to knock you down when you get too comfortable and take your eye off the ball. We won’t let that happen to us.

“We’re only concentrating on ourselves and we’re not bothered by what other teams are doing. It doesn’t interest us in the slightest. It doesn’t matter to us whether we are one point ahead or 20 points ahead: We will keep on doing what we’re doing.

“That’s one of the best things about this squad: It’s got a very good mix of young players coming through who are all hungry and ambitious and some older lads who have the same mentality. There is no one here taking it easy. Everyone wants the same thing and that is to be as successful as possible.”

As City have extended their lead at top of the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division to 14 points, McCormack has confirmed his status as the ‘Rebel Kante’ with a series of all-action displays at the base of the Cork midfield, a consistently high level of performance which yesterday saw him named the SSE Airtricity/Soccer Writers of Ireland Player of the Month for April.

“It’s about getting the balance right and giving the forward players the chance to do their work,” McCormack says of his role. “The goals they’ve got have been vitally important to where we are now and my job, with the defence and other lads, is to stop the threat.”

The Carlingford-born 26-year-old, who has previously played with Shamrock Rovers, St Patrick’s Athletic, and Derry City, says he has noticed striking similarities between John Caulfield’s management at City and Northern Ireland boss Michael O’Neill’s title-winning spell with the Hoops.

“It feels very similar. You come into training every day and you know you have to work hard and be on top of our game. Michael O’Neill is a winner. Every day that was rammed home and every game he wanted to win, no matter what you had to do. John is exactly the same. John drives that into you: Only three points is good enough. With Michael, he would know when we were struggling in a game or just had to hold on, but by drilling that winning attitude into us we knew what we had to do. John does the same: He tells us to win whatever it takes.”

Next up for Cork is a trip to Eamonn Deacy Park tomorrow night to face a Galway United side who served up one of the shocks of the season by beating reigning champions Dundalk at the end of last month.

“We have been working on how we can exploit them and hurt them and that’s what we want to do tomorrow night,” says McCormack. “We know that we can’t just show up and expect to win. We’re not going to turn up and be cocky because we’ll get beaten if we do that. We’ll be working hard as ever. They have started to pick up some points so they will be on a high.”

As, understandably enough, is Conor McCormack.

“I’m at the best place possible right now,” says the player of the month. “Things are going great — but we have to keep our feet on the ground and can’t get too ahead of ourselves.”

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