I EXPECT this Munster derby to be a much more difficult game for City than their previous meeting with Treaty.
On that occasion, City were worthy 4-0 winners over the Limerick outfit. However, that was a very uncharacteristic performance from Tommy Barrett’s side and even though City were excellent on the day, I don’t think Treaty will ever be that poor in a game again.
In that game, Barry Coffey’s early goal seemed to shock the Treaty players and they never recovered from it. They stood off and allowed Colin Healy’s side to dictate the game, and I don’t believe they will be that naïve or foolish enough to deploy the same tactics again. I can understand the approach in Markets Field because it was the same tactic that worked so well against the Leesiders last season, but this is not the same outfit as last year.
They have the quality to break teams down and pass the ball with more purpose and intensity. Whereas last year, their passing was slow and predictable, which made it easy for teams to sit off and defend against them.
Often it is the case in football that if you suffer a heavy defeat against a side you will be fearful of suffering the same fate again the next time you face them. Seeing how Treaty have applied themselves since entering the League of Ireland 15 months ago, I don’t believe that that will be their mentally ahead of this fixture.
I feel they will be relishing the challenge of going to Turner's Cross and will be confident of getting a positive result. That heavy defeat will be on the minds of the Treaty players and they will be seeking revenge.
If that were the case, I wouldn’t be surprised to see City go more direct early, and skip playing into the midfielders, because if Treaty do decide to press high, it would be risky playing into centre-midfielders at the beginning. City would be better playing channel balls, and by doing so; Treaty would drop-off and then City would have more space to play through the thirds.
Apart from the top teams like Liverpool and Manchester City, the rest have to earn the right to play football, and although that might not be pretty, and teams may have to go more direct than fans would like, that’s how most operate, especially in the League of Ireland.
One player who was absent in the last meeting was Treaty’s top-scorer Enda Curran. The striker missed his side's encounter with Galway United but if he returns to the squad, he is a forward City will have to be wary of. The former Galway United player, like the majority of Treaty players, has been a shrewd addition to the squad.
Curran is another player that will feel he has a point to prove. After a year's absence from the league, he looks like a player that is out to prove any doubters wrong, and players with that attitude can be very difficult to play against.
He works tirelessly up front and does come alive when the ball comes into the box. He saves all of his best movement for the penalty area and he is certainly a player you would call a ‘goal poacher’.
Where City can hurt Treaty is down the wings and getting crosses into the penalty area.
Cian Baragary had a lot of joy against Treaty in their last meeting and he is a player that seems to be getting stronger and stronger. He is building a reputation as one of the most dangerous players in the league because of his directness. Opposition players must fear playing against him because when he does get the ball, his first thought is to take on his man.
He is a brave player. He takes the risk of losing than ball by trying to take on players rather than the safe option of passing backwards or sidewards.
The Tipperary native will be key to this game and it will be important that when he does produce crosses into the box that whoever is playing up front for City are there to take advantage of Treaty’s vulnerability to defend crosses.