Last season’s runners up in both the League and the FAI Cup have started 2019 with two defeats so a win against Munster rivals Waterford on Friday night would be a welcome boost to morale on Leeside.
The departure over the winter of key creatives Barry McNamee, Kieran Sadlier and Jimmy Keohane leaves City short on the kind of flair that can turn a decent team into title challengers and leaves some questioning whether John Caulfield’s men are equipped to continue their annual battle for supremacy with reigning league and cup holders, Dundalk.
New signings Dan Casey, Daire O’Connor and James Tilley all started in the league opener against St Patrick’s Athletic last weekend while Kevin O’Connor, recently returned from Preston North End, also lined out at left back. The 1-0 defeat to Harry Kenny’s men followed another defeat, to Dundalk in the President’s Cup, the previous weekend and leaves City with nothing to show for their early season endeavours.
Drawing on his side’s winning streak against the Blues and their opening day loss, the City boss was taking nothing for granted ahead of derby day,
“Waterford are a huge side, with physical and strong players. Looking at the game against Shamrock Rovers, they looked very unlucky. They were one up, conceded a soft equaliser, then conceded last kick of the game. We know from our games last year that it’ll be hectic, it’ll be frantic. Certainly, you’ll have to be on your game because it will be high energy, but we’re planning for that.”
Drawing on last season’s results between the sides, Caulfield was leaving nothing to question after a tempered rivalry which saw his side claim bragging rights on four occasions last term,
“The games last year were very close and tight games. They have excellent players and a few new fellahs, but at the same time they have a lot of experience and any of the games between us are very competitive and that’s the way it’ll be. They’ll bring a big following; it’s our first home game of the season so we’re expecting a massive turnout and hopefully we will have that.”
Caulfield will be without striker Matthew Gillam, on loan from Rochdale, and also has fitness doubts hanging over Gearoid Morrissey, Karl Sheppard, Shane Griffin and reserve keeper Tadhg Ryan. But home fans will be keen to assess the contributions of new signings such as Liam Nash, Garry Comerford, Darragh Rainsford and Tilley.
The big question is whether John Caulfield’s winter recruitment can offset the talent drain that took place over the winter and a vociferous home crowd will expect nothing less than three points against a very capable Waterford side.
The Blues went down 2-1 to Shamrock Rovers last time out and will be determined to bounce back against their Munster Rivals on Friday night.
It is a task which is never straight forward for any club in the league, but one which will provoke extra fervor for the Blues as the travel over the border towards Cork City. Waterford have only won twice in Cork across the last ten years in what were 3-2 and 1-0 wins for the visitors for the then First Division sides.
Going into tonight’s game, Blues boss Alan Reynolds insists his side can learn from last week and expects them to move on swiftly.
“Of course we’re disappointed with the result [last weekend]; especially to concede so late in the game with such a big crowd at the RSC. Most important thing is that we learn from it now.
“That’s last week and now we have to look to the next game this Friday against Cork City. We’ve trained well this week and it’s given the new lads more time with the squad after only arriving last week too.
“Going to Cork is never easy and we need to be ready for a big atmosphere and a tough game. Our fans packed the RSC last weekend and I know they’ll be in Cork in big numbers again and that’s what the team will thrive from hopefully.”
Waterford travel to Cork this evening with no injury concerns or doubts in the squad for the game.
Referee: Derek Twomey.
This will be the first meeting of the sides in 2019 after a fired rivalry in the Blues return to the top flight last season. In all completions, City enjoyed the better of successes in what included three league wins and a 3-0 victory in the Munster Senior Cup. Waterford managed two wins over their Munster rivals, a 2-1 victory last April at the RSC and a penalty shoot out win in the EA Sports Cup.
In what is tradition in derbies, a number of players will be making returns against their old clubs this evening. Former Waterford stars Graham Cummins and Kevin O’Connor will line out for City whilst former Cork City center backs Damien Delaney and Kenny Browne will be amongst the Blue contingent.
Cork City 8/13 Draw 13/5 Waterford 9/2.
Cork City 1-0 Waterford
Injured: Matthew Gillam.
Doubtful: Gearóid Morrissey, Karl Sheppard, Shane Griffin and Tadhg Ryan.
With additional reporting from Simon O'Gorman