SATURDAY, SSE Airtricity League Premier Division: Cork City v Shamrock Rovers, Turner’s Cross, 2pm.
FOR the second time in 12 days, Cork City do battle with Shamrock Rovers, seeking to avenge last Monday week’s FAI Cup loss to the Hoops in Tallaght.
City’s draw away to Shelbourne last week, and Finn Harps’ loss to Sligo Rovers on Monday night, mean this isn’t a bottom-v-top clash, even if City manager Neale Fenn is trying to avoid other results.
“I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t paying attention to it,” he says.
“I try not to worry too much about other teams. We’ve set ourselves a target of how many points we think we can get and how many we believe we need to get, in different stages of the season.
“You can beat yourself up about other teams’ results and everything else but we just need to focus on ourselves, really.”
Last Saturday, Deshane Dalling’s fortunate goal got City the draw at Shels and it’s a result Fenn is looking to build on.
“It was a good point,” he says.
“The performance was a bit up and down but, in the cold light of day, an away point is a good point for us.
“We’re taking the positives out it, really. I think we showed the last time we played Shamrock Rovers that we didn’t fear them and we just have to go out with nothing to fear and not be too worried about them.
“We have to go out and focus on how we’re going to play and how we’re going to set up and see where we go with that.”
Rovers have only dropped four points all season, so how can you take something off Stephen Bradley’s side?
“I think we need to keep a clean sheet,” Fenn says.
“It’s obvious but we need to keep in the game as long as we can and ask more questions going forward.
“Up in Tallaght, we were…not comfortable, but I think we had a really good shape about us. They didn’t have too many chances in the first half, even though they had a lot of the ball, we sat in a good shape.
“We let in a soft goal so you go in 1-0 down at half-time, but in the second half we came out and had a bit of a go. We looked better going forward but we looked more open defensively.
“If we can get a balance of the two — try to keep our shape but also be better on the ball going forward – then we have chance.
“But, if we give away silly goals or too much possession, then we’re going to be punished because they’re an excellent team.”
And the fact that there’s an upcoming Europa League game against Milan for the Hoops won’t lead to complacency.
“If it was me and I was one of their players, I’d want to play desperately well to make sure I played against AC Milan,” Fenn says.
“I wouldn’t want to sit it out and I’m sure ‘Brads’ will pick his strongest team for us.”
Fenn and the team have set a points target for the remainder of the season, but it’s not one he’s willing to divulge.
“No, because I’ll look stupid at the end of it!” he laughs. “We sat down with the players and asked them to come up with a realistic target.
“We split the nine games into three blocks of three games each and worked out what we think we can achieve.
“Basically, we were just trying to work towards those smaller targets, rather than taking each game as it comes or taking the nine as a whole.
“It gives us a little mini-league and a goal to go for. We’re one point nearer our target for the first three games, that’s a positive way to look at it.”
And would another point tomorrow be a good result?
“I think, momentum-wise, a draw against Rovers is a good result in terms of going in to play Dundalk with a bit of confidence,” he says.
“Do we want to win it? Yes. Would I take a draw now? No, I’d probably want to go and win it. But, if you’ve drawn two games going into Dundalk, it wouldn’t be the worst result.”