Bohemians welcome Cork City and the RTE cameras to Dalymount Park, on a night that could see the Rebel Army be crowned SSE Airtricity League Champions of 2017, if “The Leesiders” are to dispose of the challenge of Bohs. Kick-off is at 7.45pm.
Bohemians come into this game on the back of a desperately disappointing 1-0 defeat away to relegation candidates Sligo Rovers, with Vinny Faherty coming up with the only goal in the 9th minute. Probably the most concerning thing about the result wasn’t the result but the fact that talismanic winger Keith Ward will have to miss out through suspension after picking up a straight red at the Showgrounds.
Speaking ahead of the game, The Gypsies boss Keith Long has said that his side should have nothing to fear despite the challenge that an all-conquering Cork City pose to his men by saying;
"It's a great game to be involved in. There's a lot of expectation on Cork City. But we've shown we can beat them already this season - we were the first team to do so. We will have to be at our very best again but we've nothing to fear from them.”
Long is also aware of the fact that City can wrap up the league title with a victory but is keen to let everyone know that the Rebels will not have it all their own way at Dalymount Park.
“Cork have their job to do, we have ours. Our players have pride in the jersey - pride in playing for Bohs - and will want to win."
Also, Long was talking about last week’s disappointment in Sligo and is keen to get back to winning ways, starting against the current league leaders and potential league winners.
"We had a difficult night in Sligo. We conceded early and were down to ten men. We had two good chances to win it in the second half but we didn't take them. Our performance wasn't up to the standards we'd set in previous weeks. It wasn't down to lack of effort, but we didn't click on the night. We want to get back to winning ways now and finish as high up the table as we can. We can afford to look up the table now, not down it now."
On the team news front for The Gypsies, Long will have to make do without Keith Ward through suspension, Eoin Wearen remains out through injury alongside Warren O Hora (Hamstring) and Lorcan Fitzgerald (Knee).
On a more positive note, Paddy Kavanagh makes his return after serving a suspension away to Sligo.
Cork City know that a win can guarantee the return of the Premier Division title after a long 12 year wait on Leeside for one of Irish Footballs top prizes.
City will most likely go to Dalymount on a revenge mission of some sorts after Bohemians being the first side to beat The Rebels during the 2017 season with a 1-0 victory at Turners Cross in July.
Speaking ahead of the game, Cork manager John Caulfield has said that he is well aware of the threat posed by Bohemians after a series of high profile scalps for Keith Longs men.
“Bohemians were the first team to beat us this season and they have done well against Dundalk and Shamrock Rovers as well. They have a lot of quality in their team, they are a strong side, always difficult to play against at Dalymount.”
Also, Caulfield has remarked that he is keen to keep his players focused on delivering the league title back onto Leeside despite the distraction of the cup final lurking in the background.
“We have got back to the cup final, which is phenomenal, but the league is the one we want. We are down to a situation now where everything is in our own hands and our focus is on Friday night. It will be a difficult game, but we will have another massive following up there and I hope that, after our last two performances, we are back to the intensity we have had for most of the season.
Taking confidence from their recovery after a somewhat shaky run of form, Caulfield is looking for the previous few games to spur his charges on in the final gallop home to the title.
“Nothing comes easy, but we are in the driving seat. The most important thing for us, after going through a shaky spell, was to get back to what we are good at and the last couple of performances have shown that. We are happy that we are back to that and hopefully it’s good for the run-in.”
On the team news front, City will have to do without the services of long-term absentees Johnny Dunleavy and Alec Byrne through injury. Also, Conor McCormack has picked up a knock during training this week and is a doubt for the game.
Steven Beattie misses out through suspension.
Referee: Robert Harvey
Bohemians were the first side to beat Cork City during the season, which ended City’s remarkable unbeaten start to the season at Turners Cross. Georgie Poynton netted from the penalty spot to give Cork their first defeat of the season.
Bohemians last home victory over Cork City came all the way back in 2014 with current Bohs hitman Dinny Corcoran being the matchwinner on that occasion in the Quarter-Finals of the FAI Cup.
Cork City only need to manage a win to guarantee the title returning to Turners Cross.
Bohemians Recent Form- LWWDL
Cork City Recent Form- WDLWL
Bohemians can still remarkably end up in the Europa League places. However, were they to get there, it would require a monumental implosion from those above them in Bray Wanderers and Derry City who are vying for the final spot.
Bohemians 9/2; Draw 14/5; Cork City 8/13
Bohemian FC 1-2 Cork City
Injured: Lorcan Fitzgerald, Warren O Hora, Eoin Wearen
Suspended: Keith Ward
Cork City FC
Injured: Johnny Dunleavy, Alec Byrne, Conor McCormack
Suspended: Steven Beattie