Munster Senior Cup quarter-final: Fermoy v Cork City, Carrig Park, 2pm.
AFTER a pair of friendly wins over Limerick and St Mary’s in the past week, it’s a step up in terms of competitiveness for Cork City, who begin their defence of the Munster Senior Cup in Fermoy on Sunday.
Having ended a nine-year provincial drought in 2017, City achieved back-to-back titles last season with a 5-0 win over Mary’s at Turner’s Cross. Their quest for three in a row starts in North Cork, with manager John Caulfield once again likely to shuffle his pack as he evaluates his various options ahead of the start of the league season on February 15.
“I think we’ll probably have 11 different players from Wednesday night’s game,” he says.
“We’re trying to give different guys game-time, we’re rotating the 11 every game to mix things up.
“I think, on Sunday, going to Fermoy, we’ll probably have 10 new players. Maybe Darragh Rainsford, we may start him again just to give him another game.”
Rainsford, who signed from Limerick amateur side Pike Rovers at the beginning of this week, impressed on Wednesday alongside Graham Cummins in the new 3-5-2 formation that Caulfield is trialling.
The Shannonsider scored a goal – a fine curling effort – just after half-time to put City in front and might have had another but for good goalkeeping by Mary’s custodian Ryan Delaney.
He could partner James Tilley, who impressed against Limerick but didn’t feature against Mary’s, while defensive signing Dan Casey, Conor McCarthy, Colm Horgan, Garry Buckley, Shane Griffin, Karl Sheppard and Ronan Coughlan are all likely to play again having sat out the game in Kilcully on Wednesday.
The change in formation is certainly one that could suit City, providing more width and defensive solidity and bringing out the best in players like Shane Griffin or Ronan Hurley, able to maraud the flank as wing-backs.
By the same token, it does mean that other players are likely to be more pigeon-holed – for instance, Sheppard has generally played on the right of the attack in a 4-2-3-1 but is likely to be seen as a striker in a 3-5-2. That is what pre-season is for, though: if the 3-5-2 works, then it provides Caulfield with more options and that can only be a good thing.
Fermoy are currently in fifth place in the eight-team Munster Senior League Division 2, though three of their four losses came before the end of September while they were unlucky to lose 1-0 at home to Premier Division side Avondale United in the FAI Intermediate Cup.
Their most recent outing in the league was two weeks ago, when they got 2019 off to a great start with a 6-0 win at home to Mallow United.
Gavin Quirke scored a hat-trick with Colin Scott, Kenneth Dawson and Johnny Hurley on target too. Others likely to be central to their hopes of an upset on Sunday are Rob Broderick and Owen O’Neill