Having failed to turn up at Turner’s Cross when the sides last met in April, Stephen McPhail knows Shamrock Rovers have a point to prove as well as points to gain when Cork City visit Tallaght Stadium tonight (8pm).
Cork blitzed Rovers in racing into their match-winning 2-0 lead inside 13 minutes in the first series of games. And though he didn’t play in that game, Hoops’ skipper McPhail wants no repeat against John Caulfield’s in-form side in Dublin 24 this evening.
Cork beat champions Dundalk for the second time in the league this year in their last outing in making it eight straight league wins to inch to within a point of Stephen Kenny’s leaders.
Rovers also brought a good result into the summer break with a 2-0 derby win at St Patrick’s Athletic to remain joint-third in the table with Derry City, though eight points behind Cork.
“The game was over within the first 10 or 15 minutes,” recalled McPhail of their defeat at Turner’s Cross.
“You can’t let that happen. We need to start the game properly. We’ve worked hard over the last couple of weeks, so we’ll be ready for it in terms of our preparation. We’ve just got to go out and try to execute the performance.
“It’s a great game to have. They’re obviously in good form, coming off a good result themselves.
“We know it will be a difficult game. But I’m sure they’ll think the same about us.
“It’s vital to get a result. We don’t want to lose. Ideally we’ll go for the win, like we always do. We certainly don’t want to allow the gap to get any bigger.”
Rovers’ preparations are hindered by suspension ruling out experienced midfielders Gary McCabe and Killian Brennan. Luke Byrne is out for the season while striker Danny North is also injured.
Cork boss Caulfield is relishing such a tough game on the resumption which he believes will keep his players focused.
“After being away for a couple of weeks, it is a good game to have,” said Caulfield.
“If it was not such a big game, there might be a danger of guys taking their eye off the ball, with the European draw and everything, so I think it is an ideal game for us.
“They are probably looking at it from the point of view that, if they win, they are back within five points of us, which puts them back in with an outside chance of the league.
“Going to Tallaght is never easy, you have to perform. We’re looking forward to it and we need to be on our game.”
Though John Kavanagh is back in training, he’s unlikely to feature for another couple of weeks while skipper John
Dunleavy has been ruled out for the rest of the season. Defender Michael McSweeney is also a doubt.
Meanwhile, midfielder Chris Shields, who begins a two-match ban, is Dundalk’s only absentee for the visit of St Patrick’s Athletic to Oriel Park as manager Kenny expects his side to bounce back from their defeat on Leeside last time out.
“The first game after the break is an important one and we want to make sure that we get the win,” said Kenny.
“St Pat’s have got good players, but we have to make sure that we hit the ground running.”
After derby defeats to Bohemians and Shamrock Rovers, St Pat’s will be desperate for a positive showing ahead of their Europa League game at home to Luxembourg side Jeunesse Esch next Tuesday.
Young midfielder Jack Bayly (thigh) remains out for Liam Buckley’s side while both Keith Treacy and goalkeeper Conor O’Malley face last fitness tests.
(7.45 unless stated) Premier Division
Bohemians v Galway United; Derry City v Wexford Youths; Dundalk v St Patrick’s Athletic; Longford Town v Finn Harps (8pm.); Shamrock Rovers v Cork City (8pm;) Sligo Rovers v Bray Wanderers.
Athlone Town v Cobh Ramblers; Cabinteely v Limerick; Drogheda United v UCD; Shelbourne v Waterford United (7.15).
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