THERE will be a strong Cork flavour to tonight’s crunch World Cup qualifier.
David Meyler is set to start, while former Cork City attackers Shane Long, Seanie Maguire and Daryl Horgan could all have a role to play for Ireland against minnows Moldova in tonight’s televised must-win World Cup qualifier at the Aviva Stadium. The Leeside connection was never so strong in the international squad with Burnley’s Kevin Long and Aston Villa’s Conor Hourihane among the substitutes, and Roy Keane the assistant manager, for the first part of what is a massive double-header on the bumpy road to Russia 2018.
Ireland simply have to win tonight and then do likewise away to Wales in Cardiff on Monday night to have any hope of securing a play-off spot for the finals next summer.
And after such a promising start to the qualifying campaign with 10 points from our opening four games, the Republic of Ireland have been in free fall since and are without a competitive win at home all year. They have scored just two goals at the Aviva Stadium this year and they are in a precarious position, to say the least.
If we drop any more points tonight, or away to Wales on Monday, then we will be clutching at straws to even make the play-offs with one of the nine group runners-up missing out.
Nearer home, Cork City’s Steven Beattie is suspended for this night week’s away league game with his old club Bohemians at Dalymount Park while Bohs’ Paddy Kavanagh will be eligible to play against the champions-elect as he sits out the Gypsies game away to Sligo Rovers tomorrow.
Some at Cork City will be hoping that Finn Harps do not perform a miracle and draw or beat FAI Cup semi-finalists, Dundalk at Finn Park tomorrow evening (5pm) as that would hand the title to the Leesiders without kicking a ball this weekend.