A FIRST defeat for John Cotter’s Cork City side, but there’s no surprise in that when you consider the opposition on Friday night.
For me, the whole point of last Friday night’s game against Dundalk was to see how Cotter would set out his side. How would they play?
Would they have the confidence, would they have the coverage to take on Dundalk in the way they have been playing in the previous two games, which was building from the back, passing and not going long all the time?
To be fair to City, they started with a plan which was going well up until the 12th minute. But it fell apart as soon as Mark McNulty made that mistake to give Dundalk the lead.
McNulty will tonight still be furious with himself for dropping the ball into a danger area for Dean Jarvis to score from close range.
That mistake changed the course of the game.
You can’t gift Dundalk a goal like that. Make them at least earn it and this setback knocked the stuffing out of the Cork team and it gave Dundalk the edge they needed and took advantage of.
From then on, you always knew it was going to be very difficult for City because Dundalk are too big, too strong, too experienced, and too long in the tooth to fall behind in a game that they take the lead against a side they know they are better than.
And there is no arguing that fact now. Dundalk are clearly a better side than Cork.
City looked nervous and vulnerable at times but that was to be expected.
They were playing against a very good side, a very strong side, and while they were true to their convictions, their passing, their composure, their decision making, and their touch wasn’t as good as it should have been and certain players didn’t perform as well as they should have done.
Like any game of football, it comes down to chances, creating and taking them. Dundalk got three, scored with their first, hit the post from a penalty with their second, and scored their third.
Graham Cummins, who had been in great form for the past couple of games, had two glorious chances to bring City back into the game in the first half.
The first, a header from three yards out which he got stuck under, and headed over. But he should have scored.
The second was a one-on-one with Gary Rogers, which the striker should have scored and brought City back into the game.
And that is the difference at that level. Huff and puff all you want but if you don’t take your chances, you will lose.
Dundalk took theirs, played very well at times and saw the game out easily despite been down to 10 men for the last 15 minutes when John Mountney got sent off for a second yellow.
The positives for Cotter were that City tried to play football. Dundalk’s opening goal wasn’t created by a bit of magic from them, but instead by a mistake from the City keeper.
They should have done better for the second goal, however, City created chances and that was a positive.
City kept battling, kept trying to play football, however, they are short a creative midfielder.
Their touch needs to be better, their confidence needs to be better, but as they go to UCD Monday night, they have another opportunity to play football, to develop Cotter’s style of play and a chance for Cotter to get another win and set them up for their next game against Shamrock Rovers.
Last Friday I was very disappointed to see the attendance of 3,334, on such a lovely night. Where were all the ‘City ‘till I die fans?”
They should have been out supporting their club, they need it.
The champions were in town, City were playing well, yet they were probably 2,000 fewer fans to what that fixture would have got last season.
Finally, I would like to add that it was a nice touch from the club to pay tribute to the late Jamesie Corcoran on the match day program.
It was also great to see the Rockmount lads out there in force having been invited by the club.
Billy Cronin, Derek Clarke, Kieran O’Sullivan and Roy Keane were a few that I came across.
It’s good to see the club doing their business right off the pitch!