AFTER the bleak, late summer and early autumn, Cork City’s blip in form has been put behind them, with wins over Bohemians, in the FAI Cup semi-final replay, and over Limerick and Derry City, in the league.
The Rebel Army round off their league programme with a home clash against bottom side, Bray Wanderers, tomorrow night, before the FAI Cup final, against Dundalk, on Sunday week.
Midfielder Garry Buckley says that the defeats to Legia Warsaw and Rosenborg, in the Champions League and Europa League, respectively, had damaged the team’s belief.
“Confidence is a big part of that,” he says. “We definitely had a few dented egos from Europe, losing to Rosenborg and Legia. They were quality sides and we got brought back down to earth.
“The confidence was dented from there, going into the league games, but we got some from the late goal against Bohs and built it up from there, with goals and clean sheets. Hopefully, now, we can gather more momentum, going into the cup final, because you don’t want poor performances and poor results going into a cup final. You need momentum, as we’ve shown over the last few years.”
Earning a draw away to Bohs in the cup semi-final in Dalymount Park was the catalyst for the turnaround in form, after four league games without a win. Since then, City have started to play with more verve, but rebuilding from the back.
“It’s always nice to get a clean sheet,” Buckley says.
“The previous games before that, we leaked a couple of goals. When you go back to basics, it’s first and foremost about clean sheets and if you don’t keep clean sheets, you don’t win games, it’s as simple as that. We need good momentum on Friday to take into the cup final the following week.
“I thought we kept the ball well against Derry. It suited us, because they wanted to do the same thing. They didn’t really press us, but I thought we picked our chances well, we broke well, and the three goals were very good.”
Do places in the starting 11 for the cup final remain in contention? “The players that have cemented their place, they could get injured or anything could happen to them. The next person has to be ready to get in there. If you’re not in there now, you could be, so there are definitely places up for grabs.”
The situation is the same as it was in 2015 and 2016, City aiming to deny Dundalk the double, which they did in 2016. Last year, it was Cork seeking to add the cup to the league and Buckley says that there is more pressure this time. “Every year, we want to win a trophy and we haven’t won one yet this year,” he says. “We got a bit of stick this year from fans and stuff, so there’s definitely more pressure. Last year, we have won the league and the pressure and the shackles were off, to an extent.
“That’s what you have to deal with if you want to win trophies. You have to put up with the pressure."