SSE Airtricity League First Division
Treaty United v Cork City
Markets Field, 7.45pm
While there was a general acceptance that things wouldn’t be easy in the first division for Cork City, similarly there were few who would have expected that the Rebel Army would have three points after four league games in the second tier.
An opening-night win over Cobh Ramblers four weeks ago has been eclipsed by losses to Cabinteely, Athlone Town and Shelbourne, the last two of those at home, and Colin Healy’s side travel to Limerick tonight seeking to end a wait for an away victory that stretches back to August 2019 and the win over Waterford.
The key thing for the manager and his team is to avoid the concession of soft goals.
“These things happen in games,” Healy says, “but at the moment it’s happening to us too often.
“The game against Shels, against the set-piece they have, we let a runner free in the middle of the box. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a good header, and the second one is a free header at the back post.
“We’re giving away some very easy goals at the moment.”
City are set to be without Jack Walsh, who was sent off in the 3-1 loss to Shelbourne at Turner’s Cross last week, though Healy feels the centre-forward was hard done-by.
“I thought it was harsh, to be honest,” he says.
“They come together and there’s a small bit of a tangle. He’s gone down quickly, it’s in front of the fourth official and he’s been given a red card.
“It made it very difficult. We go one up and they come back, there’s nothing in the game, then Jack gets sent off and we change the system to 4-4-1.
“We defended and it gave them the opportunity to control the game a bit. We changed to 5-3-1 at the start of the second half and they scored after two minutes, which makes it very difficult.
“We just have to keep going, put in the hard work and things will turn.”
In terms of officials being influenced by players, is that an area in which City players should be more cunning?
“What I would say is that, sometimes, they can be cute, they can be clever on the pitch, if they feel anything, they go down and con the referee a small bit,” Healy says.
“You get it on the touchlines, too – every tackle, every decision, everybody is jumping up and down. I’m not like that, I just like to think that if it’s a tackle, it’s a fair tackle but the last few weeks, what I’ve seen is fellas going down very easily.
“Will I be on the touchline, shouting and roaring for every decision? I’m not, I’m like that. The referees have hard enough jobs as it is, they’re good referees, they just need to decide if it’s a dive or if it’s not.”
Treaty, managed by Tommy Barrett, have won one of their four games, against Wexford, while the other three have been draws. They sit in fourth place in the table, four spots and three points ahead of City, who can ill-afford to allow the front-runners to slip further away, even allowing for the fact that the team in fifth earns a play-off spot.
City’s Cian Coleman, who scored in the win over Cobh, remains optimistic.
“We came back in on Monday and things were upbeat,” he says.
“When we lose, we don’t get too down and when we win, we don’t get too high. It’s a young squad so we know that there’ll be times like that over the season but I think that, when we do get it right, we’ll be very good.
“It’s all about Friday now and focusing on that. It was obviously tough last Friday but we’ve a big game now this week.
“When we went 1-0 up against Shelbourne, I felt that we were doing pretty well, obviously they got the equaliser but, with 11 men each, we were happy with how we were playing.
“The sending-off changes everything and conceding early in the second half didn’t help either. It wasn’t great but we’ve a big game Friday and we’re looking forward to that.”