Cork City return to league action on Friday night, as they welcome Galway United to Turner’s Cross (kick-off 7.45pm).
City go into the game having exited the Europa League against AEK Larnaca (2-0 on aggregate), but they will look to get back to winning ways on Friday night by getting their 22nd win of the season from their 23rd game.
Their last league outing saw them record an impressive 2-0 win away to Bray Wanderers, while their last home fixture was a 1-0 victory over St. Patrick’s Athletic.
The sides have met twice already this season, with United becoming the first, and so far only, team to deny John Caulfield’s side three points in 2017. A deflected Conor McCormack strike put City ahead just before the hour mark at Eamonn Deacy Park, but the home side levelled moments later via a header from former City defender Stephen Folan.
Speaking to the media earlier in the week prior to Friday night’s game, City boss John Caulfield said "everyone realises that we are in the last third of the season, and we are where we wanted to be, challenging for trophies.
"We are in a great position, and now we face a Galway side who have fantastic players.
“We know Gavan Holohan and Stephen Folan well, and they have brought in guys like Lee Grace, David Cawley and Ronan Murray. We drew with them earlier in the season in a really 50/50 game, they have won their last two games, they have turned things around and we know they will be tough opponents.
“We are coming into the business end of the season and we need our supporters to keep turning out in their droves, because we need their backing. We have put ourselves in a great position and the lads know what we need to do. We have some massive matches over the next ten to fifteen days, starting with Galway.
“We have won two leagues in thirty-three years, so we are just keeping our focus like we have done all year, taking it game-by-game and getting the points on the board. We have put ourselves in a good position and we need to make sure we keep that up.
“If you look too far ahead, you will drop points, so we have to keep it going. We have to be at our maximum and, thankfully, this season we have been for nearly all of the matches and that is what we need again on Friday night.”
Caulfield will definitely be without long-term injury victim Johnny Dunleavy, while Jimmy Keohane and Alan Bennett have both returned to light training this week and will be assessed ahead of kick-off.
There will be much interest as to how the Rebel Army will get on without Sean Maguire and Kevin O’Connor. How will they setup, will the formation change, who will come in etc will be the talking points in the hours before the game.
Shane Keegan’s side secured back-to-back league wins for the first time this season last week when United built on their win against Limerick with a 4-1 win against Drogheda United at Eamonn Deacy Park.
Gavan Holohan was on fire in the game. Playing in a more advanced midfield position, he netted a hat trick, with all three goals excellent on the eye.
Ahead of the Friday night’s game, Tribesmen boss Shane Keegan is looking to repeat that feat.
“We’re going down there at a good time, because we’re on the back of a good run and therefore confidence is high," said Keegan.
“Cork City don’t have their record for no reason. It’s phenomenal what they’re doing in the league this year, when you look at their home record, they haven’t dropped a single point.
Reflecting on the drawn game in question, the ex-Wexford Youths manager said:
“They’ve only dropped two points on the road and that was against ourselves, in a game we did quite well in, it wasn’t a case of us hanging on. That will give us confidence.
“We put in a fantastic performance that night and anything less will mean you will be soundly beaten. If we can deliver to the level we did the last time, you’re in with a chance of taking something.
Discussing Friday night’s game in more detail, the young manager says:
“There might only be the one chance in the game, we need to grab that when it arrives. That’s what we’ve done in recent home games, we’ve been clinical.
“Against a side of Cork City’s quality you’re going to have to ride your luck a bit, but we would be hoping there might be a bit of a hangover with Kevin O’Connor and Sean Maguire gone.
"At the same time, they have so much quality all over the pitch, they’ve more than adequate replacements ready.”
Conor Melody and Aaron Conway (both ankle injuries) are ruled of Friday’s trip to Turner's Cross.
Galway will hope they can add another scalp by taking more points off the Rebel Army in the post-Maguire and O'Connor era.
Referee: Sean Grant.
Both sides have met each other competitively 18 times. Cork winning 12 and Galway winning just the once. (3-2 win in 2008).
There has been an average of 3.3 goals per game in this fixture over the years. Potential for goals if history is anything to go by!
Last five games in the league: Cork City WWWWW and Galway United WWDLL
Cork City 2/7; Draw 4/1; Galway United 11/1
Cork City 2-1 Galway United
Injured: Jonny Dunleavy
Doubtful: Jimmy Keohane, Alan Bennett
Injured: Conor Melody, Aaron Conway