An old league rivalry will be reignited on Friday night as newly promoted Shelbourne travel to Turner’s Cross to face Cork City on Friday night in the SSE Airtricity Premier Division (kick-off 7.45pm).
Neale Fenn took over Cork City at the tail end of the 2019 season which seen the Rebel Army finish in 8th place. The former Longford Town manager has rung the changes in close season with over a dozen players leaving and joining the club.
Speaking to the media on Tuesday, City boss Neale Fenn was pleased with his team’s progress over pre-season.
“I’m very happy with the squad and it’s started to come together with the last few games of pre-season. Liam Bossin in goal is a commanding keeper with good experience of playing in Belgium and the UK.
“Joe Redmond is great on the ball and is able to play out from the back, Henry [Ochieng] has a great engine, Cian Coleman is an absolute athlete, and we have brought in two players from QPR and Arsenal. That’s just to name a few, but we are happy with the make-up of the squad. This will be an exciting squad, and they will all buy into playing for Cork City FC.”
Considering their poor outing in 2019, the pressure is on the Rebel Army to perform and see the crowds return to Turner’s Cross and Fenn is hopeful the supporters will enjoy the style of football and get behind the team.
“Cork City are a massive club, and you can’t be a massive club without expectations. We’ve got good attackers, and we’ll be a threat to any team in this division, and we’ve signed some very strong defenders. We believe in what we are doing here, and when the fans see the work-rate, and the fans see the performance I have no doubt they will get behind this group of players.”
The Rebel Army boss, despite it being the first game in a long campaign, is eager to get off to winning ways against a potential challenger for European spaces.
“I have a good knowledge of how Shels play from last season, and they could be a contender for Europe so it’s certainly a game we want to win. When I was a player Cork City v Shels was one of the biggest games of the season, and the fans remember that. I’m sure there will be a big crowd down from Dublin and that will only serve to add to the occasion.”
In injury news, strikers Cian Murphy and Cian Bargary are still making their way back from injury, while Conor Davis is also sidelined with a knock.
Ian Morris faces into his first game in charge at the top tier of Irish football in a somewhat unusual position. The former Bohemians player has no injury worries and brings a fully fit squad to Cork, a situation Morris says he hasn’t experienced since becoming manager.
“Five months seems like a long time, but the lads have kept themselves ticking over in the off-season which has been a massive plus.
“That’s training as a group too, not just in isolation and has been done off their own back before pre-season started,” he added.
“It’s a really strong squad and everyone has trained this week for the first time ever, so that’s a great catalyst going into the new season,” Morris told shelbournefc.ie.
While Morris is excited about his young squad of players, he believes that the Reds support is a key component in the team getting off to a good start this season.
“The players feel that support from the numbers that are going down with us and that’s massive,” he said.
With Cork ringing the changes, Morris has had to do his homework on players that will be new to the League of Ireland.
“We’ve done our video work and background work on them and will be feeding that information to the players. Neale has built a strong squad down there,” he added.
Referee: Adriano Reale
Shelbourne’s highest scoring home win over Cork City in the league came in the 1992-93 season. Paul Doolin (2), Gary Haylock, Mark Rutherford and Padraig Dully (2) scored for the Reds in a game that saw John Caulfield go in goals after Phil Harrington was red carded.
Cork City’s highest scoring home win over Shelbourne was in 2013. Four goals from Ciaran Kilduff (who now plays for Shels) and one from Danny Morrissey saw the Rebel Army beat Shels by five goals to three.
The 5-3 win was the last time the sides have met in league competition.
Cork City 11/10; Draw 21/10; Shelbourne 23/10.
Cork City 1 - 1 Shelbourne
Injured: Cian Murphy, Cian Bargary, Conor Davis.