FRIDAY: SSE Airtricity League First Division: Cobh Ramblers v Cork City, St Colman’s Park, 7:45pm
IN the same fixture last year; Cork City were outfought by their local rivals and deservedly lost the game.
The City players lacked the desire their hosts had that night. I don’t see that being an issue this time round for the City players.
They have shown on numerous occasions that they will dig deep in games and are prepared to put their bodies on the line for victories.
I have been so impressed by City’s desire to win games, which was evident again against Waterford on Monday.
I love to see a side that knows how to defend but more importantly wants to defend and this current group of City players look like they love to defend.
They aren’t worried about looking good defending like some players are.
Players are often against the idea of clearing a ball into row Z when it needs to be done or taking balls down on their chest when the easier and better option is to head it but these City players are not like that, they know their job is to defend first and play in the right areas of the pitch which isn’t in their own third.
None more so than Ally Gilchrist, who must come off with a pain in his head after every game he heads so many balls.
He characterises the change in City this season. A player that does the simple things excellently and makes games difficult for opposition players, and of course produces in important moments like his goal against Waterford.
The point I’m trying to make in regards to this game is that, down through the years, Ramblers would always have a weaker squad than City and what the east Cork side would pride themselves on and sometimes rely on in the Cork derbies is their attitude to it.
They knew they weren’t as good as the City players and relied on the City players having a poor, sometimes arrogant attitude, in the contest between the sides.
The attitudes between the sides was the reasoning behind Ramblers victory over City last season.
Unfortunately for Cobh, from what I have witnessed from City this season, their players approach every game with the right attitude and treat their opponents with respect.
Therefore, attitude shouldn’t come into play in the outcome of the game, if we are going to judge the result of this game based on talent, there is a clear winner.
However, there are of course other elements in this game that we must take into consideration before predicting the outcome.
The first being the pitch. St Colman’s Park is a small pitch and won’t be as suitable for some of the quicker players in the City side like Cian Murphy, whose space to run into is going to be limited.
Murphy likes running the channels but it is going to be a difficult game for him to do that and he will have to adopt his style of play for this match. The pitch might not be in the best of playing conditions and I’d be surprised if Cobh haven’t trained on it this week in the hope of making it worse as it then becomes more of a leveller for both sides.
City have shown in the past that they aren’t afraid to use the asset of having a long-throw in their side and Cian Bargary will be in for a busy night because it would be foolish of City not to exploit the small pitch by utilising such an asset in their side.
Set-pieces will be key in this game, and Ramblers must improve on their showing in Turner's Cross.
Cobh are a smaller side than City, which is why I understood the reasoning behind starting with zonal marking that night but after the first two or three set-pieces something had to be changed but it never did.
If the same happens again, the City will relish every attacking corner or free-kick.
I expect City to go to St Colman’s Park with the professional attitude they have shown through the season and come away with the win.