THERE seems to be a bit of worry amongst some Cork City supporters ahead of this encounter after City’s disappointing results against Treaty United and Waterford.
Of course, one point from the two games was not good enough but when you look at the bigger picture and see that Colin Healy’s side are four points ahead with only seven games to go, City are in a very strong position.
The Treaty game could be a blessing in disguise because the team hadn’t been performing for a number of weeks before that match but were getting positive results needed.
The players were falling into a false sense of security that all that was required was they ground out results until the end of the season.
There was a lack of intensity in their performances and they seemed more focused on defending rather than attacking in games.
They responded well against Waterford and but for poor finishing, City could have easily won the game by four or five.
I thought they were excellent against the Blues. They played with an intensity that Waterford could simply not live with.
Of course, the argument could be made that Waterford played the majority of the match with only 10 men but even before Richard Taylor’s sending-off, City dominated the Blues.
The level of performance against Waterford was similar to what City showed at the start of the season, which was when they were producing their best displays.
That performance cannot be a once-off. City must produce a similar display against Cobh Ramblers. If they do that and improve their finishing then that will be enough to get them all three points against their local rivals.
Both these sides met recently in the FAI Cup, in a game that will be remembered more for what happened off the pitch rather than on it.
For a local derby, it was a tame match. I was surprised by the lack of fight in the Cobh players once they fell behind to Ruairi Keating’s goal.
Shane Keegan will expect much more from his players tonight. Ramblers did enjoy some success against City that afternoon when they went more direct against Healy’s side.
The Ramblers players picked up a lot of second balls when they played long to Jake Hegarty and Cobh shouldn’t be against the idea of deploying that tactic. It might not have been the prettiest on the eye but it was effective.
The City players will know that they will face more of a battle this time out against Ramblers.
They won’t be naive enough to think that it will be as easy a contest as their last meeting. Ramblers have very little to play for the remainder of the season apart from this fixture.
The derby gives their players something to saviour in what has been a very disappointing season. The Cobh players would also be happy to prevent City from gaining promotion this campaign for a number of reasons.
Apart from the fact that they are rivals, Cobh players will want to keep City in the division because the Rebel Army’s presence in Ireland’s second-tier does give the division more coverage.
Also getting the opportunity to play at Turner's Cross twice a year is something they will enjoy. The Cobh players will be pleased to see City remain in the division over someone like Galway United because it would mean less travelling for them.
It would also be beneficial financially for Cobh because of the revenue they create from gate receipts against City and also the expense spared of not having to travel somewhere further up the country.
The City players won’t relish playing at St Colman’s Park. It is a very small pitch which makes it difficult for any away side.
The Rebel Army have seven cup finals remaining. The players will feel a bit of pressure before this match and know that it is a game they should win but at the same time, it isn’t a game they have to win because no matter what the result; they will remain top of the division.