Cork City v Galway United: Graham Cummins previews key First Division tie

John Caulfield's side are two points clear of the Rebel Army so a victory would give them a firm grip on the title race
Cork City v Galway United: Graham Cummins previews key First Division tie

Cork City's Kevin O'Connor hammers home his goal against Wexford at Turner's Cross last Friday night. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

FRIDAY: SSE Airtricity League First Division: Galway United v Cork City, Deacy Park, 7.45pm.

THIS game will not decide the destiny of the title, but it will give us a better insight to which team is better equipped at this time to win the division.

There can be no argument that Galway and City have been the best teams in the league and that is reflected in the table.

Of course, there are subplots to this game with former City manager John Caulfield in charge of the Tribesmen, former City captain Conor McCormack now skippering Galway and City striker Ruairi Keating returning to face his old club.

I’m sure all three will be keen to get one over on their former club, but perhaps none more so than Keating. There were a lot of eyebrows raised when City recruited the striker from Galway in the off-season considering he had only scored nine league goals for his former club.

City fans, perhaps, expected a bigger name through the door especially since it seemed that Galway weren’t overly concerned that one of their players had joined a close rival.

However, Keating has been one of the players of the season for City. Besides knowing where the back of the net is, his link-up play, his work-rate, and his touch have been exceptional.

The way that City play suits the striker. Sometimes as a player, you can become a bit of a journeyman in an attempt to find that club where you feel at home. A club where you feel appreciated by everyone and acknowledged for what you bring to the club. Perhaps at Galway, Keating never really truly felt appreciated.

DOUBTERS

From the outside, it would seem that way. Otherwise, the 26-year-old would be lining out for Galway instead of City tonight. He will be desperate to score against his old club and prove any doubters wrong.

It’s only three weeks since Caulfield claimed that City were “overwhelming favourites” for the title, yet Colin Healy’s side come into the game as underdogs.

You must appreciate Caulfield’s attempt to try and draw Healy and his players into his mind games, but it seems to have failed.

The City manager and his players are aware of what those comments were trying to achieve and have laughed them off. If anything, those words could backfire on the Galway manager because if I was a player in the City dressing room, my message would be; ‘let’s go show him why we are overwhelming favourites’.

Wexford's Joe Manley heads away from Cork City's Ruairi Keating. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Wexford's Joe Manley heads away from Cork City's Ruairi Keating. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

This is going to be a tough game for City. Galway are in exceptional form.

They have always looked strong in defence but are now starting to become a more dangerous attacking side and I would imagine are causing a lot of fear for opposing sides. Will the City players fear Galway? I don’t think so.

But I would imagine there will be a lot of nerves in this young City side before the game. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the roles reversed from the game earlier in the season, with City going more direct, especially in the early stages of the game so that they ease their way into the game and settle those nerves.

As much as City players will believe in their own ability and will want to try and play out from the back, there will be an intense atmosphere in the stadium. I would imagine Galway will want to be fast out of the blocks and get their supporters behind them as quickly as possible.

City will want to nullify that crowd and will want to try and reduce the risk of making any unnecessary errors. If that means being more direct and perhaps unpleasing on the eye, then so be it. The last thing City want is to concede an early goal like they did in their previous away game against Athlone Town because Galway will know how to control the game having taken an early lead.

The City players know that they have to be better than they were against Wexford. A repeat of that performance won’t be good enough to get any sort of positive result from this match.

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