CORK City will be hoping to send another bumper crowd home happy and smiling when they host Shamrock Rovers in their top billing league action at Turner’s Cross tonight.
John Caulfield’s side after an excellent 2-1 comeback victory at Sligo Rovers last Monday night are on the crest of a wave as they seek a 16th match unbeaten in this year’s championship race.
Cork recorded a hard fought 2-1 away win over the Hoops at Tallaght Stadium over the St Patrick’s weekend back n March and this will be another test of the Leesiders’ character and resolve as we head towards the summer recess from June 3/24.
“Shamrock Rovers are always a great attraction and we’d hope to have a huge crowd again tonight.
"Stephen Bradley has come in as manager half-way through last season and laid the foundations and invested massively in the interim and they are a big draw all over the country.
"They are a club like ourselves and have pressure from the fans and the media spotlight is on them all the time and they are expected to win trophies year on year.
“They have made their intentions known since the start of the season by signing players like Ronan Finn from Dundalk, Roberto Lopes from Bohs, Trevor Clarke (Middlesbrough), David McAllister (Drogheda) and Ryan Connolly (Galway United) and they still have lads like Gary Shaw, Simon Madden, Brandon Miele and Darren Meenan,” said Caulfield at his weekly press briefing at Bishopstown.
“Rovers have already beaten Dundalk and I think they have lost some games they felt they should have won and they have been a little inconsistent. It’s another enormous challenge for us but the thing is we haven’t gone on a slide or a downturn since the 1-1 draw in Galway. We bounced right back with two fabulous victories over Drogheda and Sligo Rovers and we are ready for the other Rovers now,” he told me.
Cork have several key men facing late fitness checks before kick-off with Garry Buckley, Steven Beattie, Karl Sheppard and Gearoid Morrissey all nursing knocks.
“If you look at our record over the last three years or so, we have been so consistent in that the team has all but picked itself on so many occasions and we’ve been able to field a more or less settled team.
But that’s not the case this season because of injuries and the odd suspension and I think we have only named the same team twice all year.
“From a manager’s point of view, I prefer to have everyone fit and ready to go, but for this our third game in eight days, we have lads like Buckley, Beattie, Sheppard and Morrissey all nursing knocks and they will all be assessed nearer the kick-off. No one is definitely out and no one is definitely in at this stage,” he added.
Caulfield also broached the hot topic of Seanie Maguire’s future and Preston‘s pending signing of the league’s top scorer.
“There’s been a lot of talk and speculation about Seanie’s future but no one can go anywhere until the end of July and all I can say is that Seanie starts tonight.
"Some of our other players have been linked with cross-channel clubs as well but there’s no point in getting over excited because nothing will happen until the end of July,” he added.
“There’s been interest in Seanie since the start of the season and he was over on trial at Preston after the FAI Cup final last November. His form has been great and he’s our top scorer again but I want his sole focus to be on the Rovers game tonight.
“Ryan Delaney’s loan arrangement is progressing and we’ve been in touch with Nigel Cough at Burton Albion. But, in modern day football, things don’t get sorted with one ‘phone call like in the old days.
“Nowadays the football market is controlled by agents, and more so in terms of England, where agents own the players now rather than the clubs and they more or less control and run what happens. We are in on-going talks and I’d be hopeful that in the next two weeks we will have some positive news on him,” he told me.