ALL roads lead to St Colman’s Park for what should be a tasty local derby between Cobh Ramblers and Cork City tonight (7:45pm kick off).
It should be a great occasion, with what should be a packed crowd and cracking atmosphere for the clash in Cobh.
City will make the trip looking to keep their promotion push very much on track. But Ramblers will have other intentions and will seek to claw themselves back into the playoff picture.
Ramblers come into the derby off the back of a win at home to Athlone Town on Easter Monday.
It was a boost which Darren Murphy’s side badly needed ahead of the derby, but they should face a much stiffer test when Colin Healy brings his City side to town.
Looking ahead to the derby on Friday with City, Ramblers boss Murphy said:
“Friday night is a huge game in Cork. I think you will get fans coming from everywhere to see a great game of football.
“Derbies are big games all around the world for teams and players. It is a chance for our players to impress as well.
“In front of your home crowd, we say how important the fans are when they are cheering you on, they create that loud and positive atmosphere at St Colman’s Park.
“That is what we will be looking for again. All we ask the players to do is to go out and give it their all.
They have done that in every game now to be honest.”
Beineón O'Brien-Whitmarsh was chief among the Ramblers goal scorers in the Athlone win and he will be seeking to try and do likewise against his former club this Friday.
Ramblers heading into the game on Friday are 7pts off the playoff places.
Although they are currently in 8th position, there is still plenty of time for Cobh to salvage the season and a good run of results could see them right in the hunt for the playoff spots once again.
Cobh will be most certainly looking for a repeat of what happened when the teams played in St Colman’s Park in May of last year.
A goal from Jake Hegarty fired Ramblers to a famous 1-0 victory, for what was Ramblers first league victory over City in 26 years.
That game was a few weeks too early before restrictions were eased to allow fans to attend games again.
So Ramblers fans will be hoping to bask in the glory in a similar way at a packed St Colman’s Park.
Looking ahead to Friday’s encounter with City, Ramblers attacker Hegarty said:
“This is a derby and there should be nothing easy for any team. St Colman’s Park is different to Turner's Cross, so they are not going to have so much time on the ball and we mightn’t have so much time on the ball.
“I expect it to be intense and lively as a derby should be. That is going to suit us down to the ground and we are going to be well up for it.”
Hegarty will be hoping for a repeat of what he did against City in St Colman’s Park last year for certain this Friday.
The current league table and overall form over the 2022 season so far suggests this will likely be a Cork City win.
Off the back of a victory away to Waterford, City come into this derby top of the table. Colin Healy is determined to get The Rebel Army back to the Premier Division of Irish football and City fans will be coming to Cobh expecting to pick up another three points to aid their promotion push.
However, local derby games generally can take on a life of their own.
With the bragging rights on the line, Ramblers will be hoping to tear up the script.
Such as the Dundalk win in the League Cup semi-final a few years ago, Cobh have shown they can produce one off big performances and cause upsets at St Colman’s Park.
Ramblers will need that you feel and possibly more to secure a positive result against a City outfit that are in a confident mindset right now.
With Covid restrictions limiting crowds last term, this is set to be the biggest attendance at a Cork derby game at St Colman’s Park since 2008, when both sides were then facing off in the League Of Ireland Premier Division.
The excitement is building for what should hopefully be a good advert for Cork soccer.
Roll on tonight !!