Turners Cross is the destination for Friday’s top of the table clash between league leaders Dundalk and second-placed Cork City. Three points separate the sides going into the game that will be shown live on Setanta Sports with an 8pm kick off.
Cork City are unbeaten at home this season and the Rebel Army will be hoping that they can preserve that record against a Dundalk side that have scored 52 goals in this league campaign. Both sides are on good runs of form with Cork City recording eight wins out of their past ten games while Dundalk are unbeaten in their last twelve stretching right back to a 4-0 victory over Friday’s opponents.
That game was a bit of a once off for a Cork City side who got delayed in the major traffic jam in Dublin and only got to the ground less than half an hour before kickoff, which was hardly ideal preparation for a game against Dundalk. Dundalk won 4-0 that night thanks to goals from John Mountney, Richie Towell and a brace from Pat Hoban.
Tonight’s game should be a lot closer and Cork City manager John Caulfield expects his side to put in a good performance. Speaking to the media earlier in the week, Caulfield said:
“We have done brilliantly all year and it is a good opportunity for us. We have worked hard at training all week, we are in front of our own crowd and it is up to us to give it our best shot. We will give Dundalk as tough a game as we possibly can; it is important for us to give a high quality performance. I’m hoping that we will play well and put it up to them. If we play well and they are better than us, that’s fine, but I have a feeling that if we play well, then we can get a result.”
John Caulfield will have to plan for the game without the services of Brian Lenihan who suffered concussion against Bohemians last Friday. He will be joined on the sidelines by Rob Lehane while Gearóid Morrissey is only rated as 50/50 to play against the Lilywhites.
New signing Ross Gaynor could make his debut in the match having only completed his move from Sligo Rovers on Wednesday.
He is hoping for an improved performance this week after his side lost 2-0 to Bohemians last week saying:
“This is the biggest game of the season so far. We didn’t play well last Friday so there is an opportunity and an onus on the whole squad to step up to the mark and put in a big performance, and that is what we are hoping to do.”
However, Stephen Kenny in the Dundalk dugout is expecting a tough battle in front of a huge home support in Turners Cross.
“We’re in good form but so are Cork and they are really playing well and getting results. We are expecting a battle down there, a really tough battle. We know it’s a difficult game but the players have no fear. We have prepared well and we are ready for the match.”
Luckily for Stephen Kenny he has nearly a full squad to pick from apart from Stephen O’ Donnell who is ruled out for the season with a cruciate ligament injury and Keith Ward who is approaching full fitness after being out with a hairline fracture. Daryl Horgan has recovered from a hamstring strain and he will make his first appearance at the Cross since leaving Cork City last December.
Stephen Walsh, Pundit Arena.