Cork City and Drogheda United go into tonight’s game at Turner’s Cross on the back of defeats, but each has a very different reason for wanting to bounce back as quickly as possible.
For Drogheda, Friday night’s defeat by Shamrock Rovers meant the champions are breathing down their neck again although both, of course, will still need to overhaul Sligo Rovers – five points clear and with a game in hand – if they are to claim the Airtricity League Premier Division title.
For City, by contrast, the concern involves the other end of the table, after a long unbeaten run hit the buffers with back-to-back defeats, the most recent Friday’s 3-1 loss at UCD which left manager Tommy Dunne furious with his players.
“We need to get back to the basics of our game,” he says, “being tighter as a team and giving ourselves an opportunity to win the game, because we did not do that on Friday night. Drogheda are probably the surprise package in the league this season. They are having a fantastic season. Mick Cooke has done an excellent job there and he deserves all the credit he gets. They have some excellent attacking players, and they will be difficult opponents for us.”
Worryingly for Cork, Cooke sees a potential good omen in Friday’s 0-2 defeat by the Hoops.
“I was disappointed not to get anything from the Shamrock Rovers game, but the last time we lost to Rovers we went nine games unbeaten, so hopefully we can start that again,” he points out. “We have shown that we can bounce back from defeat and we are now getting into the final third of the season and the pressure is building, but we are still in second place and all we can do is focus on the next game.”
Unwelcome injury news for Cork is that John Dunleavy damaged an ankle ligament in the defeat by UCD, and early signs are that the defender will be sidelined for three to four weeks. Both Colin Healy (thigh strain) and Neal Horgan (knee) need fitness tests while Graham McCarthy (ankle), Cathal Lordan (knee), Eoghan Murphy (ankle) and Kevin Burns (ankle) are all definitely sidelined.
For Drogheda, Derek Prendergast is suspended following his dismissal against Shamrock Rovers, Cathal Brady picked up a knock on Friday night and is a doubt, and Philip Hand will undergo a late fitness test before the game.
Doubtless, leaders Sligo Rovers will be hoping Cork City can do them a favour by taking points off Drogheda but the north-westerners still have it all in their own hands as they host a UCD side which has now managed back-to-back wins.
Tonight’s Premier Division fixtures (7.45): Bohemians v Shelbourne, Dalymount Park; Bray Wanderers v Derry City, Carlisle Grounds; Cork City v Drogheda United, Turner’s Cross; Dundalk v St Pat’s, Oriel Park; Sligo Rovers v UCD, The Showgrounds.
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