MONDAY: EA Sports Cup quarter-final: Bohemians v Cork City, Dalymount Park, 7.45pm
WHILE Cork City have been regular contenders for the league and FAI Cup since 2014, the league cup has been a competition which has eluded the Rebel Army.
The club has won it three times — 1987-88, 1994-95 and 1998-99 — and the last appearance in the final was as a first-division club in 2011. With the Premier Division out of reach in the current season, tonight’s quarter-final with Bohemians represents a chance to keep silverware hopes alive and manager John Cotter is hoping for a good display.
“It’s a trophy we haven’t won over the last five, six years,” he says.
“You go out every game and you want to win and we’ll be going Monday to win that match, absolutely. It would be great to get to a semi-final.
“Silverware breeds confidence, but Monday will be tough away. Bohs are a good side but we’ll going up there definitely trying to win the match and get to a semi-final for ourselves.”
City come into the game on the back of a 2-0 defeat to Shamrock Rovers and Cotter is likely to make changes to his lineup.
“Yeah, I suppose after losing, some fellas might think they deserve a chance,” he says. So you give a few fellas a chance, absolutely, and then it’s up to them when they go on the pitch.
“We’re under no illusions, Bohs will be a tough game as well. We had a great win up there last month but that’ll count for nothing on Monday. We’ll do our work and hopefully get a good result up there.”
Five games into his tenure as interim manager, Cotter has now enjoyed three wins and experienced two defeats, but they have come against the joint league leaders, Dundalk and Shamrock Rovers.
Cotter is optimistic that City can continue the general upward trend.
“I think the rest of the league are behind those two sides at the moment,” he says, “and I think it’s that kind of league of eight teams that are going to be scrapping for points.
“They’re ahead of everyone else in the league. Everyone else is kind of tight, to be fair. Look, we’re not stupid, we know we’ve fallen a bit behind them in terms of development at the moment, but all we can keep doing is concentrating on the next one. We’ve another big game on Monday followed by another on Friday. So we have to pick ourselves up and learn from it. But we need to learn fairly quickly too, to be honest.”
On Friday, City defended well in the first half but a pair of goals from Rovers early in the second period put them in control. Cotter felt that the concessions were avoidable.
“They were two more soft goals,” he says. “We spoke again at half time, like in the Dundalk game, and five minutes into the second half they score. I thought we frustrated them in the first half, we had a good shape, defended well and looked quite dangerous when we had the ball. But even though we spoke at half time, concentration is obviously an issue because it’s happened again.
“As I said after Dundalk, the better sides punish you, and that’s what happened again tonight. We came out after half-time, left ourselves in the dressing room for a bit and got punished — 15 minutes in and you find yourself 2-0 down.
“After that, we never majorly looked like we were going to score. Rovers were comfortable, probably let us have it to a certain point. And that’s something we need to be better at too without a doubt. But, first and foremost, you need to give yourself a platform. And against the two best sides in the league at the moment, we got punished when we made silly mistakes.”
There was a bright spot in the return of Gearóid Morrissey, who lasted an hour before being replaced by Pierce Phillips.
“That’s Gearóid’s first game since Bohs five games ago, and that was always the plan,” Cotter says.
“It was always an hour because we knew if he went on any more we could risk losing him for more. We just had to mind him with the injury he had.”