SSE Airtricity League First Division
Cork City v Shelbourne
Turner’s Cross, 7.45pm
A meeting between Cork City and Shelbourne in the First Division conjures memories of the 2011 title-decider at Tolka Park, when Graham Cummins’ late winner sent the Rebel Army back to the top flight as second-tier champions.
Last season, both clubs were in the Premier Division but City finished bottom and Shels lost a play-off against Longford Town. Ian Morris’s side were favourites for promotion while City were also fancied to challenge but have lost their last two games.
Shels drew with John Caulfield’s Galway United in their opening match before a 3-3 draw with Bray Wanderers and then last week needed an own goal for a 1-0 victory against Wexford.
It’s a game with a lot riding on it and, while there may not be the same rivalry that existed in the 2000s, City’s sole survivor from 2011, captain Gearóid Morrissey, will ensure that the newer players are aware of what’s at stake.
“You’d be letting the lads know about past games and the bit of bite that’s there,” he says.
“I remember that game up there, Tommy Dunne was the manager and we went in at half-time and the dressing room was locked and he had to kick the door down.
“There’s a good history about it and a bit of edge. For the lads who wouldn’t have seen and known about it, I would let them know that there’s pride here and it runs deep.”
Having beaten Cobh Ramblers in their opening game, City have finished on the wrong side of 1-0 results against Cabinteely and Athlone Town. Morrissey admits that it’s frustrating but he remains optimistic that results will improve.
“I wouldn’t be satisfied myself,” he says.
“I haven’t many strikes at goal yet. I’m building and sometimes it’s a slow-burner, it just takes a few games. I definitely know that there’s more in me and I’ve confidence in my ability, I’d back myself and hope that it comes right.
“In the games we’ve played, we’ve had most of the possession, to be fair, and we’ve moved the ball quite well
“The spells they’ve come into the games, we’ve handled them well as well and defended well. At the end of the day, we’ve given away two soft goals in the last two games and we haven’t put the ball in the net.
“From looking back at the Cabinteely game, if we had scored it could have been game over because they’d have had to come out and play. They were really defensive and trying to catch us on the counter, similar to Athlone.
“We had a lot of possession, it just basically comes down to goals winning games. If you score a goal, it changes the game – they can’t sit in and try to catch you on the counter.”
There are differences between the Premier Division and the First Division, but they’re not ones that are necessarily visibly apparent.
“I wouldn’t say physicality,” Morrissey says, “it might be mindset, moreso.
“You have teams go out almost ready for a scrap before they’re anticipating a football game. It’s almost a given in the first division that you really have to win the battle, just winning flick-ons and hook-ons and just getting a tackle in here and there and the second ball. It mightn’t look pretty but it has a massive impact in going forward and earning the right to play.”
That can be a bit harder when City are considered a scalp for everyone else, but Morrissey accepts it as something that comes with the territory.
“Cork City’s a massive club,” he says.
“It’s a pity how things unfolded and we are where are but, for me, still the biggest and best club in the country.
“It doesn’t matter what division we’re in, even pre-season and going up to Rovers, you could still see how much they wanted to beat us. There’s still massive weight that comes with playing for Cork City and people are out to get you but that’s part and parcel of it.
“You’d have it no other way.”