Karl’s goal is to keep on scoring

Karl’s goal is to keep on scoring

SSE Airtricity League Premier Division, Turner’s Cross, Cork 7/4/2017

Many might not have paid much attention, but Karl Sheppard has been a constant presence at the top of the Cork City goalscoring charts ever since his arrival from his second stint at Shamrock Rovers over two years ago. 

21 goals in two seasons signals a decent return from the player usually deployed as a traditional ‘inside right’.

This season has seen the 26-year-old up his game further, netting four times in City’s first eight games, including a Man-of-the-Match winning brace against league rivals Dundalk in front of a capacity Turner’s Cross last Month only just having been restored to the side.

“Whenever you’re dropped out of the team you’re always disappointed and rearing to go at it again, sometimes you need to be left out to get that kick up the backside and get that fire back in the belly. 

"I’m just thankful I’m in the team, scoring a few goals, and continuing this winning run.” 

That habit of winning certainly assists City’s confidence, but Sheppard is one that has shown particular improvement for the Leesiders in both attack and defence, perhaps a bit of the pressure taken off his shoulders as a leading scorer as he has established himself once again as a mainstay in the City side.

“I’ve been playing a bit more, that makes it a bit easier (to score). 

"When the team is winning it’s easier to score goals and when you look at the creativity in the team it doesn’t matter where you play you’re always in with a chance of scoring.

“That’s one of the differences with this year, that we’re scoring from all over the pitch where as last year we were depending on one or two people to chip in, historically that was the way it was with two or three lads on ten goals and the rest chipping in with the odd ones, but even now in midfield you have Chops (Gearóid Morrissey) and Bucks (Garry Buckley) both pushing to get into double-figures."

That winning run, now eight in eight to match Dave Barry’s 1998-99 team, City will look to stretch further tomorrow night, when they travel to a Bohemians side surprisingly fourth in the table. 

A win at Dalymount Park would equal a club record for consecutive victories, and Sheppard says the players have never felt stronger together.

“We’re starting to gel a bit better now, when we played up in Rovers and we played poorly but we won was probably the sign of a good team. 

"I’ve had a few goals that have been quite similar but if you look at a lot of the goals there’s a pattern, and we’re starting to get to know better what each player is doing.

“I think we have a confidence about us, I wouldn’t necessarily say swagger, but we’re confident in our ability. 

"We look at our dressing room and we know once we perform we can beat anybody, which does give us plenty of confidence.

“If you look, Greg (Bolger), Beatts (Stephen Beattie), Johnny (Dunleavy) and Kav (John Kavanagh) are all being left out of the team, and then you have Griff (Shane Griffin), Christian (Nanetti), Conor (Ellis) and Achille Campion all sitting on the bench who are dying to get in.

“When you look at the bench and aren’t having a good game you know there’s plenty of lads there to take your place so you need to raise your game.” 

One senses John Caulfield and his side are motivated like no other to shoot for perfection this season, after three seasons of constant improvement culminating in the FAI Cup final victory last season. 

The Rebel Army have been 100% since that memorable day at the Aviva, but the manager is quick to emphasise further work needs doing, confirmed by winger Sheppard.

“We beat Derry the other day but we were slow to start, and probably weren’t in control of the game until the goal went in. 

"We know there’s a lot of improvement in this team, and we know that we can go strength-to-strength, and hopefully, that starts with another win.” 

Difficult to see how City could possibly improve further on perfection, perhaps tomorrow night will reveal the answer.

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