SATURDAY'S win over Sligo Rovers didn’t show Cork City at their best, but nevertheless it was achieved from a platform of defensive solidity.
Alan Bennett led the line as the champions made it 13 clean sheets in 22 league games to move back to the top of the table. While City began well, Kieran Sadlier scoring in the first minute, Sligo began to get on top midway through the first half.
It wasn’t until a second goal from Graham Cummins in the 80th minute that the game was made safe and the defender admits that it’s a test to be on the back foot for so long.
“Yeah, you’re in the defensive mode,” he says.
“The key for us is that, when it turns over, you show a bit more quality so we can all move up the pitch then together.
“It’s a fantastic win, tick it off, Bohs now on Friday, a big game, hopefully get a big crowd, and it keeps the whole thing moving forward.
“We can only concentrate on ourselves and focus on ourselves. That’s what we’ve been doing and we were really happy with the clean sheet on Saturday. Nults [Mark McNulty] made a great save, obviously, we’re a strong unit when we’re like that and it showed good mental strength from us.”
While it wasn’t the optimum performance, Bennet could still take satisfaction from the way the clean sheet was achieved.
“We had a good 20 minutes,” he says, “after that we should have gone for it a bit more but it was disjointed, there were a few injuries, it upset our rhythm.
“They got back into it and that carried on into the second half. In the past, we might have dropped points there, but we’ve got to that level now, mentally as a team, that we know we’ll get something.
“The longer the game went on, it stretched and became a bit more open, luckily we got the second one.”
Into that defence will come Damien Delaney next month, and Bennett is excited to again be linking up with the Ireland international, having played alongside him in the City youth team in their teenage years.
“Absolutely,” he says. “The other day, we were picking teams and John said, ‘Anyone over 30, go this side,’ and I was the only one there. That’s what it comes to, so it’ll be good to have someone else in the 30-plus club!
“I know him from my youth days, he’s a good guy and he’ll go straight into the group, there’ll be no airs or graces about him. He’s a really good fella and a good Corkman, it’ll be great to have him.
“Everybody in the group will benefit, not just the defenders. He played midfield when he was here and physically he’s an incredible specimen. For a 36-year-old to be in that shape is fantastic and the lads will see that and learn from it.”