Airtricity League Premier Division: Shamrock Rovers v Cork City, Tallaght Stadium, 8pm.
AFTER Monday’s win over UCD, it’s back to Dublin for the second time in five days for Cork City, with two more trips to the capital next week.
John Cotter’s side face joint-league leaders Shamrock Rovers, seeking to put up a better performance than the 3-1 home defeat at the beginning of April. However, with three wins in four games since Cotter took over – and three clean sheets – he feels they are better equipped for the challenge of Stephen Bradley’s side.
“To be fair, confidence was low at that time,” he says.
“They scored at key moments, we gave away soft goals that night. We’ll defend properly, we’ll set up to do our defensive strategy against them, but with the confidence we have at the moment, we’ll still look to implement our own gameplan.
“We’ll be trying to hurt them too, so it won’t all be about defending on Friday night. Rovers are in a good place at the moment, to be fair, and we know it’ll be a tough game, but we have to go up there full of confidence and give the boys belief that we can get something.”
The game at the Cross was a fourth straight game without a win for City against Rovers, their last victory over the Hoops coming in March 2018 courtesy of a Kieran Sadlier penalty.
However, Cotter doesn’t necessarily feel that the Rebel Army owe Rovers one, instead focusing on what they can do.
“We owe ourselves one!” he laughs.
“Over the last few weeks, we’ve just been concentrating on ourselves and trying to get wins for ourselves and the club and the supporters.
“We don’t worry about anyone else or owing this team or that team, we just concentrate on ourselves and that’s what we’ve been doing the last few weeks.
“We’ve picked up a few good wins but they’re gone so hopefully on Friday we might go on and get another good result.”
City are hoping to have Gearóid Morrissey and Dan Casey back from injury and Cotter is delighted to have more selection options, while acknowledging the importance of strong displays from the players who have come in.
“It’s huge,” he says.
“The lads have been brilliant here over the last few years but, at the same time, when they’re out we don’t really worry, we just concentrate on the fellas that are available.
“That’s what we have been doing and I thought they’ve been brilliant, Kevin O’Connor has come into midfield and done really well over the last few weeks, Garry Comerford and Gary Boylan, too.
“It takes everyone, but having these boys back will give you more options as well. That’s what we’re looking to have, especially when we’ve a lot of games coming up, you need every player.”
The overall attitude from the players has been heartening.
“They’ve been brilliant,” Cotter says.
“They’ve really bought into it, everything I’ve asked them to do they’ve done it and more, to be fair.
“The atmosphere around is great but a few results always help that, to be fair. The boys are buzzing at the moment and that’s all you can ask.
“Coming to the end of Monday night and the other games we’ve won, we haven’t looked like conceding goals. That’s huge and it’s something we’ll hopefully build on.”
After tonight, City are back in Dublin on Monday for the EA Sports Cup clash with Bohemians and then next week the third round of Premier Division fixtures begins with a game away to St Patrick’s Athletic in Richmond Park.