Graham Cummins on how Cork City improved and what they need to do to get promoted

Colin Healy's side are just two points ahead of John Caulfield's Galway as the battle for the First Division title hots up
Graham Cummins on how Cork City improved and what they need to do to get promoted

Cork City's Dylan McGlade gets past Zak O'Neill of Cabinteely. His return from injury will be key to City's promotion chances. Picture: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile 

DESPITE having had a good season so far, Cork City have been affected by injuries.

After a brilliant 1-0 win away to Galway last Friday night, Colin Healy’s side are a point clear at the top of the First Division table as we head for a mid-season break. Their only loss was against Galway, so getting a result on the road was massive in terms of the race for automatic promotion. Defeat would have left them five points off the summit.

They’re a in a decent position, but there’s no room for error, as Galway are an excellent team with former City boss John Caulfield at the helm.

The loss of Gordon Walker has become noticeable in recent weeks. City had been excellent at the back, but have begun to look vulnerable there in recent games.

Walker was excellent last season, one of their best players and a great attacking outlet, too. Healy has yet to settle on a player at right wing-back and the former UCC player would have been ideal for that position.

Despite being absent for so long, Walker seems naturally fit, a player that won’t need weeks of training or several games to get up to speed. The 23-year-old should be available towards the end of June and will be a big boost for City in the fight for promotion. He would also be an option to play in the back-three.

Dylan McGlade has also been a huge loss.

When he scored three in the opening game of the season, my thought was that he would easily get 15 goals this year. That was when City were operating with a 4-3-3 formation, which suits the former Shelbourne player, because playing in the front-three means he doesn’t have as many defensive duties as he would if he operated at wing-back.

He wants to be attacking, which is why I don’t believe wing-back would suit him, but perhaps playing as a number 10, when City do play 3-5-2, would be ideal for him. He would have fewer responsibilities defensively, and he is a good enough player that when he is playing in that position he would be able to receive the ball on the half-turn, which would allow him to attack defenders.

City have certainly missed him in tight games this season: McGlade can unlock defences and is one of the best players in the division.

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Alec Byrne is another absentee that City have missed. He would thrive the way City have played this year. He is very relaxed on the ball and was one of City’s best performers last year.

His return will be a welcome addition from here on.

City’s recruitment over the summer window could be key to their promotion chances. 

Kevin O'Connor of Cork City in action against Shane Griffin and Roland Idowu of Waterford. Picture: Michael P Ryan/Sportsfile
Kevin O'Connor of Cork City in action against Shane Griffin and Roland Idowu of Waterford. Picture: Michael P Ryan/Sportsfile

Healy has shown he is reliable when recruiting players and has got the vast majority of his signings right. Signing Kevin O’Connor, Ally Gilchrist, Matt Healy, and Ruairi Keating, in particular, has been key to City’s success.

Those four have been excellent and any of them could make a claim for being City’s best player this season, to date.

As good as the squad is, I do still feel that more additions are needed if Healy’s side are to be playing top-flight football next year.

City could benefit from adding another centre-midfielder, a winger, and another striker. Of course, they might not have resources to attract as many players as they would like.

So, if they did have to prioritise one area, I would favour a striker. That’s nothing against the forwards at the club, because I’ve already highlighted how good Keating has been. Cian Murphy is pivotal to the high, intense game City want to play and Mark O’Mahony has impressed during his limited appearances.

However, I still feel that they are light up front.

That doesn’t necessarily have to be someone that will come into the team and be an automatic starter, but someone who can be trusted to come on in games when other strikers need a rest. Or be a different option for City when they are struggling to break teams down in the closing stages of matches.

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