Recovered and recharged, the Rebel Army go again following last year’s double heart break and begin their new campaign with the President’s Cup at Turners Cross (kick off 5.30pm).
City are seeking a fourth win in a row in this competition which has been the new season curtain raiser since 2014 between the League champions and FAI Cup winners.
Dundalk took the honours in both competitions last season as Cork lost their league crown to Dundalk and then were defeated by the Lilywhites in November’s 2-1 FAI Cup triumph for Dundalk at the Aviva Stadium.
Now after a winter of comings and goings, City are raring to go again as they take on familiar opponents.
Speaking ahead of the game, City boss John Caulfield was uncharacteristically relaxed in his preparations with any thoughts on rivalries secondary to the squad building on Leeside.
“We have won it the last three years, and that has got us off to a good start,” said Caulfield. “On Saturday, I think people will see that there will be a lot of new players in our squad, so we need to try and integrate them.
“We are up against the club that have been up at the top, along with ourselves, for the last number of years, and they have kept their players as well as adding a few players.”
Caulfield has had to make changes to his squad with Jimmy Keohane swapped for Daire O’Connor and James Tilley coming in as a replacement for Kieran Sadlier. The manager was keen to stress today’s tie as marker for his new arrivals.
“We have given game time to everyone in pre-season and given everyone an opportunity. We have a number of young lads who have come into the club, as well as some of our own young players coming up from the under-19s, so it is a great opportunity for them.”
All attention will be on Vinny Perth as he leads his Dundalk team to Turner’s Cross as Coach for this afternoon’s tie as the Lilywhites face their first competitive game since the departure of talismanic manager Stephen Kenny last November.
With both of the league and cup trophies residing in Oriel Park from their successes last season, Dundalk are a side with little else to prove.
Travelling south is a squad of old and new as the cult heroes of Patrick Hoban, Brian Garland and Michael Duffy have been joined in the off-season by new signings Sean Murray and Dean Jarvis.
First team coach John Gill is looking at this game as another step in their overall preparations for 2019.
“Saturday is a good game to have, it’s money on the table time,” said Gill. “We have great respect for Cork City and they have done brilliantly under John Caulfield. We know what they are about.
“We want to go down there and win. There’s a trophy on offer and this group of players want to win every game that they play. That is the way everyone should be. We are looking forward to the game. It is going to be difficult but we are ready and hopefully we can come away with the win.”
This is the fourth meeting between the sides consecutively in the competition, with City holding a 100% record.
The most recent clash was a 4-2 thriller in a snowy February afternoon at Oriel Park last year. After a Ronan Murray double seemingly gifting the trophy to Dundalk by halftime, City responded in fine fashion through goals from Karl Sheppard, Graham Cummins, Barry McNamee and a late cracker from Kieran Sadlier to capture the cup for city.
In the previous two President’s Cup games, City won 2-0 (2016) and 3-0 (2017) - with both of those ties taking place in Turner’s Cross.
Cork City 13/5; Draw 11/5; Dundalk 10/11.
Cork City 0-2 Dundalk
Injured:John Kavanagh, Gary Comerford, Ronan Coughlan, Shane Daly Butz.
Injured:Jamie McGrath, Jordan Flores.
MATCHDAY | The 2019 season begins with the President's Cup at Turner's Cross!— Cork City FC (@CorkCityFC) February 9, 2019
Kick off 5.30pm.
Tickets available on the Eventbrite app or visit:https://t.co/BHPKJdIlSV#CCFC84 pic.twitter.com/smaXeMc4f3