WITH the exception of centre-half Ryan Hogan, table toppers Cobh Ramblers and manager Stephen Henderson have a full strength squad to take on troubled club, Athlone Town in the midlands tonight looking to maintain top spot in the SSE Airtricity First Division.
Hogan has a knee injury and is ruled out of first team action again this weekend.
Henderson's side went top thanks to Karl Caulfield's stunning winning goal away to title rivals Shelbourne in Tolka Park, and the Dubliner says his young squad are there on merit.
"The character of these young lads up in Tolka Park was incredible, I'm so proud of them. The win puts us top of the perch, the last time we were there we didn't deal with it too well. So let's see how we deal with it this time,” added Henderson with Cobh and Cork City jointly top of their respective divisions for the first time in a long while in domestic football.
Ramblers are on the road for the second week in-a-row as they head to Athlone and Henderson is urging his side to remain focused ahead of the game.
"We have to keep going, and there has to be consistency. We're top of the league, the question is do we have the mentality to stay there? There's still a long way to go but, having made the play-offs last year against Drogheda, we intend to give it our best shot again this year. Cork City have shown that if you're professional and you stick at it, you can go on long, unbeaten runs. I know we're capable of doing that, so let's see if we can this weekend,” he added.
Cobh had a resounding 5-1 win over the same opposition at St Colman’s Park back on March 18 last but they will need to get last weekend’s Munster Senior Cup semi final reverse to Wilton United out of the system quickly and this is an opportunity to do so.
Wilton qualified for the MSC final for the first time in their history with a 4-1 penalty shoot-out win over a strong Ramblers selection at Pat Bowdren Park where goalkeeper Brian Cronin was the man of the match.
Henderson will want to put that shock result behind him tonight and Cobh will look to Paul Hunt, Craig Donnellan, Charlie Fleming, Chris McCarthy, Cian Kingston and Karl Caulfield to produce the goods here with the Rams just a point ahead of Waterford United.
Cobh’s next home fixture is against fourth placed Cabinteely on this night week, Friday, May 12 so as to avoid a clash with Cobh Wanderers FAI Intermediate Cup final date with Dublin-based Liffey Wanderers at the Aviva Stadium at 3 o’clock on the Saturday, May 13.
Meanwhile the FAI has launched an investigation into Athlone Town regarding potential breaches of FAI rules.
A detailed report has been received from UEFA highlighting irregular betting patterns around the club's SSE Airtricity League game with Longford Town on Saturday, April 29 last.
In its report to the FAI, the European governing body presented analysis which demonstrated the irregular betting patterns on international markets.
The FAI has now opened an investigation and a copy of UEFA's report has been submitted to An Garda Siochana, The FAI has written to both clubs involved in the fixture and interviews will take place with both clubs involved in the fixture when players, coaches and officials will all be interviewed on Monday.
If the investigation determines a breach of FAI rules, charges will be issued and the matter will be heard by the FAI Disciplinary Committee, in accordance with FAI rules The FAI has been monitoring the club since it received information from UEFA following an inquiry by FAI Competitions Director, Fran Gavin, prior to the start of the 2017 season The FAI remains in regular contact with UEFA and will be seeking further information On March 29, Mr Gavin delivered an Integrity Workshop presentation to the Athlone Town AFC senior squad and coaches on the prevention of match-fixing and betting, in his role as FAI Integrity Officer.