AFTER a much-needed three-week break, Cork City return to action in the Women’s National League this Saturday afternoon as they take on Shelbourne at Tolka Park.
Not that they will need reminding but City were beaten 2-0 in their last outing at home against Galway earlier this month to leave them rooted to the bottom of the division and without a win in any of their nine games.
That was also their first match with Paul Farrell in charge and after initially being appointed on an interim basis, the club has since moved to give him until the end of the season to make an impact.
And speaking to The Echo, Farrell believes the time off should help his side put a disappointing start to the season behind them as they look to get a win on the board soon and start climbing the table.
The squad should have also received a boost seeing Éabha O’Mahony recently claim her second and third Republic of Ireland senior caps in their games against Iceland while Eva Mangan, Leah Hayes Coen, Megan Carr, and Laura Shine played for the Irish U19s against Northern Ireland.
“The break went really well, it was good for the girls to get that break,” said Farrell.
“We did have a few away at international camps as well. We had four away with Ireland’s U19s and Éabha O’Mahony was away with the seniors and did really, really well so huge congratulations to her for getting two more caps including a senior start.
“But the rest of the girls just ticked over, we took about eight or nine days off from training and they did a bit of gym work and their own football work.
“When we came in last Tuesday week you could see they were definitely fresher and a little bit happier in themselves.
We did manage to get a challenge game last Friday which went really well. We got everyone some game time and we used it to implement a few things before we had the full week leading into Shels.
“You could see the girls were much livelier in that challenge game. They were pressing really well, they were stepping high, they were all getting after the ball when they lost it and when they turned it over they were keeping it much better so they looked like they had a really fresh start.
“That’s what I asked them to do, use this as a fresh start and they seemed to take that opportunity.”
For a fresh start competitively, City could hardly have been given a tougher game as they face former City striker Saoirse Noonan, who scored twice when the sides met at the beginning of the season, and her title-chasing Shelbourne side.
Shels go into this meeting just three points behind last year’s double winners Peamount United and with the best defensive record in the WNL, only conceding three goals in nine fixtures.
It will also be an interesting battle on the touchline as Farrell’s second game at the helm sees him come up against the vastly experienced Noel King.
“Noel is a legend in the game. He is an ex-Ireland international manager both for the men’s and the women’s so it will be a privilege to stand next to him. But you always want to beat them, no matter who is standing next to you,” added Farrell.
“I’ve been in the club a good while. Taking charge of the team the last day was a huge privilege but now the hard work starts.
“It will be a tactical battle, Noel knows the game very well so it will be about trying to find a way around his system and find that weak link.
“Shels don’t have many, but every team has a weak link so we need to find it, pry on it, and try to get a result.
Going to Tolka to play Shels is always a difficult task for any team, but the girls are going to embrace that. It’s still 11 players versus 11 players.
“They are looking forward to it and they will bring that high intensity into the game as best as they can to disrupt Shels’ style of play.
“I have faith in the girls that if they play to their ability then we can get a result up there. We feel we have the quality to challenge any team, but it’s just about getting everything to click together now.
“Will it click this weekend? I’m not too sure but it is definitely coming.”