CHAMPIONS-ELECT Cork City can win a first league title and end a 12 year drought against defending champions, Dundalk at Turner’s Cross in this evening’s big televised clash which kicks-off at the earlier time of 7.20pm.
A home win will seal the deal for John Caulfield’s side who have already beaten the Lillywhites three times this season while a draw or an away win will simply delay the celebrations until Derry City come south on Saturday night, October 7 – the night after Ireland’s World Cup qualifier with Moldova.
“We are disappointed over Friday night’s away defeat at Limerick and even more so with the goals we conceded. We started the game very well and yet we were two down inside ten minutes.
"You just couldn’t allow for the first goal, it was comical and may never happen again.
"Tonight is a different proposition with our nearest challengers Dundalk in town and we have to try and get over the line and make home advantage count for us," said Caulfield.
"This is an opportunity for us to go and win the league and that’s what we need to do. It’s our first home league game since we played Sligo and we have to earn the right to be champions. They don’t hand out league titles easy and we know that from our history.
“We need to give our best performance and we want the fans and the Rebel Army in the ground early to create that positive vibe and to get behind the team from start to finish.
Once we go over that white line tonight we need to leave everything on the park and no regrets afterwards,” added Caulfield who envisages one or two changes.
Alan Bennett and Conor McCormack are possible options to start but the manager wants to see his team play at a higher intensity and cut out those uncharacteristic defensive lapses.
City have already beaten the defending champions three times, winning 2-1 in Cork on March 25 on their way to an incredible 22-match unbeaten run and then on June 2 a Seanie Maguire hat-trick gave the Leesiders an outstanding 3-0 victory when they simply blew the opposition away at Oriel Park. Cork also won the season’s official curtain-raiser when they won the President’s Cup final with a 3-0 victory at Turner’s Cross.
“It’s going to be an intriguing game. Dundalk have to win it, if we win, we win the league in front of our own fans and if it ends in a draw then we have wait for the home game with Derry City.
“The supporters are our 12th man and they can drive the team on and we want them to stay positive and stay with the team throughout the match. We need that positive energy to feed into the players and let’s see where it takes us,” he added.
“It is brilliant place to play and a brilliant club to play with. The support is phenomenal, both home and away. We need to eliminate the mistakes we made the other night and go and play like we can play and like we have in previous games against Dundalk.
“You are nothing in any club without your supporters. We need everyone tonight, in the ground early, right behind the lads. We need that positive vibe, the hostile atmosphere that we get when we are away from home. It is our patch and I am urging everyone to get in and drive the team on,” added Caulfield.