Stephen Rice: What people don't realise is that it is not easy to close a league out

Wed, Sep 06 2017

Stephen Rice welcomed on his return to Shamrock Rovers with Longford in 2014 Credit: Macdara Ferris

Cork City will make the trip up to City Calling Stadium this Saturday night to take on Longford Town in the FAI Senior Cup quarter final as they go in search of a League and Cup double.


It promises to be an interesting occasion, especially for the Longford manager Neale Fenn, who was of course a member of the City side that won the 2005 Premier Division crown and has had an excellent start to his new managerial role.


Former Longford Town midfielder Stephen Rice insists that all the expectation is on Cork City to go out and win the cup tie against the side from the Midlands.  


Rice was with Longford when they won the First Division title in 2014. He is well known for his exploits with Shamrock Rovers and he played a key role in their League of Ireland Premier Division title success in 2010 and 2011.


He also scored a famous goal for the Hoops in the Europa League at White Hart Lane against Tottenham Hotspur in the 2011 Group Stages.


Giving his thoughts on how his former side Longford will fare against Cork City in Saturday’s quarter final, Rice said:  "It should be an interesting tie. Neale Fenn of course has come in there and is an ex Cork City man.


"In fairness to him he seems to have put a lot of structures in place there already and they look like an outfit that will be difficult to beat.


"Longford have nothing to lose going into Saturday’s game. All the pressure in a way is on Cork because Cork are expected to go there and win. In my view Cork should win that tie, but it is a great game for Longford and for Neale Fenn because they have absolutely nothing to lose.'


It is only a matter of time now surely before Cork City finally pick up their first Premier Division title since 2005. John Caulfield’s side have been the pacesetters all season long and the finish line to league glory is ever so close.


City still very much harbour ambitions of securing a league and cup double this season.


Giving his thoughts on that Caulfield and City have done this season, Rice said: "Cork have been outstanding and they deserve so much credit. They are going to win the league.


"What people don’t realise is that it is not easy to close a league out. No matter how far you are ahead, when it gets down to that final game or two it  becomes difficult.


"They were beaten by Rovers last week, but overall this season what the players and John Caulfield have done has been outstanding," added Rice who was in Cork on Sunday in his current role as the Shamrock Rovers U17 manager.


Rovers beat City 4-0 in Bishopstown in what was a deserved victory.