CORK CITY manager Colin Healy has challenged his players to maintain the levels of application that earned them a first pre-season victory against Waterford on Saturday.
City triumphed 3-0 at the Regional Sports Centre on Suirside, with Dylan McGlade’s first-half strike followed by goals in the second half from Cian Murphy and sub Alec Byrne.
The Rebel Army complete their programme of friendlies with a clash against Finn Harps on neutral ground next weekend before the SSE Airtricity League First Division campaign begins against Cobh Ramblers at Turner’s Cross on March 26.
Having shown encouraging signs in 2-1 defeats to St Patrick’s Athletic and Shamrock Rovers over the previous two weeks, Healy was pleased to come out on the right side of the result, but the manager acknowledges that it’s still the case that places are up for grabs for the league.
“It is of course,” he says, “it’s always up for grabs.
“They have to go and perform and they have to earn that jersey every week. I think against Waterford the attitude was fantastic from the lads.
“It was a good performance. We’ve been working hard in pre-season and we had a good game against Rovers last week. I thought we were better in possession today and we got some really good goals.
“It was different game, but you can see from the last two or three games that we’re getting better and better and the fitness levels are good.”
Mark McNulty was not involved against Pat’s – when David Harrington and Paul Hunt shared goalkeeping duties – but he started against Rovers and played the full 90 minutes on Saturday. He looks to be in pole position to start against Ramblers, but Healy isn’t making any guarantees.
“We didn’t want to be changing the keepers too much so we left Mark in against Waterford,” he says.
“It might be a different keeper next week, so we just left Mark in on Saturday.”
Outfield, there was good versatility on show as Cian Coleman – usually a midfielder – started at centre-back for the second game in a row. Steven Beattie came on at right-back in the first appearance of his second spell with the club and finished the game at centre-back, alongside Ronan Hurley, who had started at left-back.
Having such options is a big asset to Healy.
“I know the majority of the lads over the years from the academy and I played with a few of the older lads as well.
“I know what they can do and can’t do and it was good to put a few lads into different positions to see what they’re like. It was a good run-out.”
At the same time, is it difficult to keep a squad of 25 or so players happy?
“Obviously, it is,” Healy says, “but that’s my job and I have to get on with that.
“The training throughout the week has been fantastic, there’s a good attitude and good team spirit. Once we have that, we’ll be okay.”
Centre-back Rob Slevin wasn’t seen against Waterford, but by and large the injury situation is good.
“Slev is out with his back and Josh Honohan is still coming back with his knee,” Healy says.
“We’re not too bad at the moment.”