AFTER ending their six-game losing streak with victory against Sligo Rovers, Cork City assistant manager Richie Holland admitted it was a “huge relief” to get the win against the Bit O’ Red.
City went into the game without several key players which gave others an opportunity to impress, such as 18-year-old John Donovan.
City’s makeshift backline looked comfortable throughout the game, and Holland said they did focus more on shape in the build-up to the game because of the number of players missing.
“It’s a huge relief to be honest.
“I keep saying it, that during bad runs, we were always in games, but decisions or individual errors cost us.
“But I think the lads put in a massive shift tonight and it was a great win.
“We had to do a bit of work on our shape over the week because of the players that we were missing. You’re asking a young boy in John O’Donovan to come in.
“He’s only 18, getting his first start at Turner’s Cross. Jonas Hakkinen probably was a risk because he is only coming back from injury but Jonas was brilliant tonight.
“And Darragh Crowley of course, playing right centre-back; not a bother to him. Darragh can play anywhere and he is a great lad and he will always give a 100% for the shirt.
“Gordon Walker came in. He’s another one that had gotten much game time but done brilliant. The lads are buzzing. We are all in this together.
“I keep saying that. The lads have taken criticism. Staff have taken criticism. It’s part of the game.
“But you could see inside in the dressing room how much that win meant. There’s some young boys there tasting victory for the first time in a first-team environment, so it is fantastic for all of the lads.”
After questioning some of the choices made by the referee in last week’s fixture against Dundalk, Holland was once again in disagreement with referee David Dunne’s decision to send off Matt Healy for a second yellow card in the dying moments of the game.
It’s no secret that City have felt that important calls have gone against them this season and Holland felt Healy could have remained on the pitch.
“I was just talking about it a while ago.
I just think sometimes, that not every challenge is a yellow card.
“Matt’s got a nice graze on his thigh as well from it. It’s one of those, that’s it’s an honest challenge. A 50/50 in the middle of the pitch.
“I just feel that sometimes, some referees are very quick to bring the yellow out.
“I don’t know. It wasn’t for me anyway and it’s frustrating because we are getting a couple of players back next week and now Matt is missing and that is probably the only black mark on tonight really.”
Despite the victory, City still remain in the relegation play-off position, five points adrift of Drogheda United, after the Louth side pulled off a surprise victory against Shamrock Rovers at Tallaght.
With the champions next up for City at Turner’s Cross, Holland does expect a reaction to the defeat against Drogheda from Rovers but will have the team prepared for it. The last City and Rovers clash was a cracker, the Rebel Army leading throughout until they were reeled in late on.
“Rovers coming down is going to be a tough game anyway, but what you can see is that anyone in this league can beat anyone, or get a draw unexpectedly against someone.
We know that Rovers are a very very good side. They probably have the top players in the league.
“They have been winning leagues the last couple of years because they have been the best team. So for us, it’s going to be a massive challenge next week. But, I’ll enjoy tonight and reflect on the victory.
“We will think about Rovers tomorrow because it is going to be a big game.”