Graham Cummins: Cork City have to face Bray like they are the team to beat

A bad start proved costly for Colin Healy's side last season, this time they need to play with confidence and focus from the off
Graham Cummins: Cork City have to face Bray like they are the team to beat

Dylan McGlade of Cork City in action against Zak O'Neill of Cabinteely. Picture: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

FRIDAY: SSE Airtricity League First Division: Bray Wanderers v Cork City, 7.45pm.

IDEALLY, Cork City would have preferred a home game on the opening night of the season.

The first game of the campaign brings new hope and new expectations and supporters are going to be out in their numbers.

I’m sure Bray will have a big backing at the Carlisle Grounds this evening and it will be up to City players to silence their supporters.

Of course, there will be a lot of support from the Rebel Army and the players will be keen to impress the travelling supporters.

The opening game is a special match for players. They have waited months for a competitive fixture. It’s one of the biggest games of the campaign for a player.

As a player, it was a game that I always felt I had to start to set me up for a good season. Being a sub for the first game; you get the feeling that you are out of the manager’s plans.

Of course, that is not the case but being in the starting 11 in the first game does give a player confidence and I believe players raise their game for the opening fixture.

During the off-season City manager Colin Healy reiterated the impact that last year’s poor start had on the team and why they cannot afford to do that again this year if they want to win the division.

With only nine teams in the division and fifth place enough to earn a spot in the play-offs, City can afford a poor start if they want to go up the hard way but the club’s aim this season has to be winning the title.

City have brought a lot of new faces into the squad during the off-season, faces that should bring extra quality and probably just as important, more experience to the side. They have lost senior players like Gearoid Morrissey and Steven Beattie and they will need some of the new recruits to show they are ready to fill their shoes on the pitch and in the dressing room.


After missing most of pre-season, City fans will have been delighted to see new signing Ally Gilchrist feature against Shelbourne last week. Although it was the Scottish defender’s first appearance in a City shirt he looked like a player that had been at the club for several seasons.

He was vocal throughout and you could see his leadership at every set-play the way he organised the team.

I was sceptical about the former Shels’ player starting in City’s opening game because of his lack of matches during pre-season but any doubts I had were put to bed after seeing his display against Shels and I would be surprised if he wasn’t in the starting 11 tonight.

Against Shels, Healy opted with a 4-4-2 formation and I would expect the City manager to go with the same system tonight.

Many managers are against playing the traditional formation because of fear that they will be outnumbered in midfield, but the City players look comfortable in this shape out of possession and pose a real threat with the ball by having two frontmen.

One of the main reasons that City will have the luxury to play with two strikers is because the two frontmen work tirelessly for the team and are happy to drop in on the opposition’s deep midfielder when they are out of possession, thus avoiding an overload in midfield.

Bray is a difficult start.

The merging of Bray and Cabinteely has seen a host of players from the latter sign for Bray.

City’s record against both sides was unimpressive last year with Healy’s side failing to win a game in the combined six fixtures against the two teams.

However, I don’t think that should or will play on the City player’s minds.

They have to go to the Carlisle Grounds with the mentality they are the team to beat this season and have to go and attack Bray.

Yes, they have to be respectful of their opponents but not too respectful and they certainly should not stand off their hosts and allow them to dictate the play.

City are at their best when they play with pace and press the opposition. Get the ball to players like Cian Murphy and Dylan McGlade and let them get at the opposition.

City have to show intent that they mean business this season.

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