WITH the need to avoid relegation from the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division the main priority, it wouldn’t be a surprise if the FAI Cup second round was a nuisance for Cork City.
The Rebel Army travel to Tallaght Stadium on Monday to face league leaders and cup holders Shamrock Rovers, but despite the odds being against City, manager Neale Fenn is conceding defeat beforehand.
“Everyone wants to win the cup and everybody wants to play in the final,” he said.
“I wouldn’t say it’s a nuisance, I think it’s spread out enough. If it was clashing very close to a league game, you could probably say that we could do without it.
“We would have preferred it to have been at the weekend – Friday or Saturday or even Sunday – rather than the Monday, but obviously Rovers have requested the Monday and they got it.
“The fact that we’re up in Dublin twice in a week isn’t ideal but it is what it is and we just have to get on with it.”
The last time City were in Tallaght was a league game back in February which ended in a 6-0 defeat after Deshane Dalling was sent off. That clash will go down as a lesson learned and Fenn is keen for the team to show that.
“They weren’t smiling down on us when they picked us with Rovers,” he said, “but it’s a chance to get revenge of sorts after the loss there in the league.
“A few of the boys were hurting after that, they don’t feel that they acquitted themselves that well up there.
“It was only our second league game and we were quite naïve. In the second half, we should probably have accepted that we were going to lose 2-0 with 10 men in those conditions.
“You lose 2-0 away to Rovers, it’s not a disaster, but we were still trying to go for it, still trying to play and hurry up and go forward when we were getting peppered.
“It’s hard to tell young guys that, they have to learn for themselves but the perception of a 6-0 defeat is a lot worse than losing 2-0. Obviously, it affects our goal-difference as well.
“The problem is that we haven’t time for educational games!”
There are no replays in the cup this season, with City having beaten Longford Town after extra time in the first round. Does the change affect how City would approach a game like this?
“I think it stops teams playing for a draw, not that we would,” Fenn said.
“There’s no point trying to get it to penalties, so you have to try to win the game in 90 minutes.
“Obviously, Rovers will be thinking the same, they’re at home and they’re top of the league so they’re flying.
“I’m sure they’ll go full guns blazing but our lads have something to prove after the last time up there so we’re looking forward to it.”
Joseph Olowu, who scored City’s goal in Friday’s 3-1 loss to Derry City last week, is out for four-to-six weeks with a hamstring injury, while Cory Galvin, Cian Bargary and Josh Honohan are also out and Uniss Kargbo is rated 50-50.
Kit Elliott, who had a goalscoring debut against Sligo Rovers a fortnight ago, could feature after missing the Derry loss.
“He had a knee injury,” Fenn said, “it swelled up after the Sligo game and we weren’t sure what it was.
“It seems to be the way at the moment – we find a formation or a team that we think could go and get us a few results and then we have to go away and change it again because of injuries.
“Obviously, Cory Galvin did really well against Waterford and he got injured. Kit and Uniss both played well against Sligo but we had to change it, the same with Cian Bargary against Longford.
“I suppose that’s the consequence of four or five games in a few weeks. A break of ten days between games is good, it gives time to get the bodies right, even if a couple are out for longer than we thought they would be.
“It’s a bit of a blow but that’s part and parcel of it. We’re not the only team affected by injuries so we just have to get on with it, really.”