TOUCHING distance... the league title silverware is within reach for long time leaders Cork City when they go to play Bohemians in another televised clash at Dalymont Park on Friday night (7.45pm).
City will have a big travelling support in anticipation of a title success at the famous Phibsborough venue on Dublin’s northside, but if it doesn’t quite happen in 24 hours time, then they have the fall back of a home game with Derry City at Turner’s Cross on Monday night and a possible repeat of the pitch invasion and joyous scenes that underpinned their 2005 title victory.
Can history repeat itself?
“For the first time we know exactly what we have to do now to win the title.
"We have to win one game, the next game up at Bohemians or take a point against Bohs and then a win or a draw will do at home on Monday night against Derry.
“But again that’s easier said than done.
"Bohs were the first team to beat us in the league and ended a 21 game unbeaten run going right back to the start of the season.
"They have had great results against Dundalk and Shamrock Rovers and they are a strong team and always hard to beat at Dalymount Park,” said City’s John Caulfield.
“They have quality players throughout the team in Shane Supple, Derek Pender, Paddy Kavanagh, Dinny Corcoran and Ismail Akinade and they have plenty energy and drive in the middle of the park too in Faud Sule, Oscar Brennan and George Poynton who scored from a spot kick against us in Cork.
“They have one of the best goalkeepers in the league in Shane Supply and it’s not a given for us by any means. Every time we go to Dalymount we get a good game and it will be the same here.
"It’s all come down to the last few weeks of the season and we only need two points from four games to do it,” he added.
Caulfield is pleased that his team have recaptured the form they showed earlier in the year and have overcome the dip in form and performance that hurt them recently and effectively delayed their coronation as league champions.
“We have turned out two very good performances against Dundalk and Limerick in two different competitions.
"It’s in our own hands now and if we can get close to that level of performance and intensity, we will have a great chance.
“We are in the Cup final on November 5 but obviously the league is the one we want,” said Caulfield who has a clean bill of health.
Apart from Beattie’s suspension against one of his old clubs, Cork have an injury-free squad and Conor McCarthy looks set to replace Beattie at right-back.
Bohemians have midfielder Keith Ward serving a one-game ban after he picked up a red card in Sligo while winger Paddy Kavanagh returns for this attractive encounter.
“We are in control and in the driving seat at the top of the table and eight points clear but Dundalk are still holding out hope of a four-in-a-row.
We just need to get back to what we were good at having come through a shaky spell and that’s all behind us.
"Bohs will want to stop us in our tracks again but we are very close to getting over the line.
“It’s 12 years since we last won the league, so I’ll take it anywhere in Dublin or Cork but one thing is for sure, we will enjoy it and celebrate it when it happens,” said Caulfield who is a trifle fearful of Bohs’ domination in the air and they do pose a set piece threat.
“They are quite direct when it comes to set plays, corners and frees and they have some big men in the team.
"You never get an easy game at Dalymount and, historically, when I was a player myself our record up there was terrible.
"Thankfully, things have improved from that point of view, but you write them off at your peril and we certainly won’t be doing that at all tomorrow evening,” he added.