ST PATRICK'S ATHLETIC
It's the first meeting between the sides this season with the draw for the EA Sports Cup quarter-final pitting the teams against each other once again in two weeks’ time.
Liam Buckley’s men have collected eight points from their opening nine games of the season and sit above Sligo on goal difference after slipping to a 1-1 draw with Galway last Friday night.
The Saints got the better of the Rebel Army in their last encounter in Inchicore back in October by three goals to one thanks to Conan Byrne, Sam Verdon and Christy Fagan with Alan Bennett scoring a consolation for the Munster side.
Fagan is still unavailable, however, having not made an appearance since coming off with a hamstring injury against Bohemians at the end of March. Also missing is former City defender Darren Dennehy, who misses out due to an ankle problem.
Goal of the Month Winner Conan Byrne is fit and will look to add to his goal tally having reached a century of goals for The Saints.
“We’re looking forward to the prospect of facing the team leading the way in the standings to date,” Buckley told the club's website.
Cork are a good side and they’ve been impressive in the games I’ve seen them in so they deserve to be top of the league.”
“However, we’re full of belief that we can get a result against Cork as games between ourselves over the last while have been close and last year we turned them over in Richmond, so we’ll again look to go out and win the game.”
Defender Lee Desmond is savouring the opportunity to take on the league leaders yet again with the former Newcastle trainee full of belief that his side can take all three points.
“Playing the league leaders, the general consensus is that they are always going to win and the pressure is off us.
“The only pressure we’re under is the pressure we put on ourselves, and we’re going out to win the game against Cork.”
“We’ve watched a bit of how Cork have been playing lately and know that they are strong from one to eleven so we know what they are capable of.
“Our results have picked up in recent weeks and that’s because we’ve worked hard in getting the basics right and have cut out errors we had been making.
“We know that if we continue to apply that in our performances, we’ll pick up more results so that’s the aim heading into Friday.”
The Leesiders were victorious over managerless Limerick in their EA Sports Cup second round tie thanks to goals from Garry Buckley, Shane Griffin and an own goal from Limerick full back Shane Tracy.
They set a new club record, ninth consecutive league win after turning over Bohemians last Friday by two goals to nil.
The Rebel Army have flown out of the traps this season and will finally look to claim the title after finishing second behind Dundalk in the past two seasons.
They have already claimed victory over the Louth side after an impressive 2-1 victory over Stephen Kenny’s men at Turner’s Cross on the 25th of march.
They also boast the best defensive record in the league, having conceded just four goals this season. Their blend of youth and experience at the back has provided fruitful, keeping five clean sheets.
Former Saint Greg Bolger will come up against the side he left in 2015, having won one league title, one FAI Cup as well as a League Cup winners medal with the Dublin side.
Leading scorer Sean Maguire is available to provide firepower up front, having netted eight times in nine league appearances, winning SWAI Player of The Month for March along the way for his troubles.
New recruit Jimmy Keohane is ruled out, however. The former Exeter City player picked up a shoulder injury against Bohemians and is out for the foreseeable future.
The pair of Steven Beattie and John Dunleavy are both doubts but will undergo a late fitness test before the game.
Boss John Caulfield assessed the opposition during the week, highlighting the threat of Pats and the experience their squad carries.
“Pat’s have some excellent players. They have seasoned professionals who have won major trophies.”
“The one thing about them is that they will always come out to play, some weeks they are lightening and other weeks they are not.
“From our point of view, we have to assume Pat’s will play at their best and we have to be ready for that challenge.”
“You have to be ready and have to focus on the next game. As we saw last Friday night, Bohemians threw everything at us and every game now is tough. You need to be tuned in and ready to go, because there are a lot of tight games.
“It will be different type of game against Pat’s; there are probably areas of the game where they will think they can cause us trouble, and we are working on areas where we think we can cause them problems.”
Referee: Robert Hennessy.
Pats' form: DLWWL
City's form: WWWWW
Pats 13/2; Draw 16/5; Cork 4/9.
St Patrick's Athletic 1-3 Cork City
St Patrick's Athletic:
Injured: Christy Fagan, Darren Dennehy.
Injured: Jimmy Keohane.
Doubtful: Steven Beattie, Johnny Dunleavy.