Having enjoyed a magnificent start to the season Drogheda United now find themselves without a win in four league games. However, any rush for the alarm button should be tempered by the fact that the only teams to have beaten them all season are league leaders Sligo Rovers and current league champions Shamrock Rovers.
After Friday night’s defeat to Shamrock Rovers at a rain sodden Tallaght Stadium, manager Mick Cooke will be delighted to welcome back Brian Gannon and Shane Grimes from suspension. Nor did any of Cooke’s players pick up knocks against the Hoops so he should have a fully fit squad to choose from.
Currently sitting fourth in the table, Drogheda are just three points off second placed St Patrick’s Athletic and Cook will be looking for an improved performance against Cork on Monday night.
“I thought we never got going on Friday night”, he said in the aftermath of Friday’s defeat. “It was our worst performance of the season so far. Our defence was really sloppy and although I don't think Shamrock Rovers were at their best, we didn't help ourselves.”
No does Cook take lightly the challenge posed by a rejuvenated Cork City. “Cork have had a bad start to the season, but to be fair they are turning it around and had a good win on Friday night, so they will be full of confidence. But we need to get back on track, it's nice being fourth in the table, but we can push on from that.”
While Drogheda enter this game on the back of a four game winless streak, Cork City have won three and drawn one of their last four matches. Wins against Shelbourne, Dundalk and UCD, along with a valuable away point at St Pats, have helped to turn around a season that threatened to become something of a disaster.
So much so that three points against Drogheda on Monday night would move them to within a single point of their opponents. Key to Cork’s revival is the goal-scoring form of Davin O’Neill and Vinny Sullivan. While O’Sullivan has bagged four in the last six games, O’Neill has scored eight over the same period, including two hat-tricks.
In all, City have managed 15 goals in those last six games, though Drogheda fans will be pleased to hear that they have only managed two goals away from home all season, both of which came in the 2-1 win over Shelbourne courtesy of Vinny Sullivan.
Tommy Dunne will again be without injured quintet Shane O’Connor, Jamie Murphy, Neal Horgan, Stephen Mulcahy and Kevin Murray. Central defender Dan Murray is also a doubt with the stomach injury which kept him on the substitute bench against both St Patrick’s Athletic and UCD.
Cork City have managed just two clean sheets this season, at home to Monaghan United, and away to St Patrick’s Athletic last weekend.
The last time Cork City played a league game at Hunky Dorys Park was on 2nd June 2009 when Drogheda won 2-1. Conor Kenna and Dave O’Connor scored for the Drogs, while Dan Murray replied for City.
At this stage last season Drogheda were on a run of six straight defeats and had managed to gather just two points from their opening twelve league games. This season’s form shows an improvement of 17 points. Or, if you prefer, an increased points yield of 850%.
Drogheda 7/5; Draw 11/5; Cork 7/4.
A 1-1 draw.
Drogheda Injury News: None.
Drogheda Suspension News: None.
Cork Injury News: Neal Horgan, Kevin Murray, Stephen Mulcahy (all knee); Shane O’Connor (foot); Jamie Murphy (ankle) - Doubt, Dan Murray (stomach).
Cork Suspension News: None.
Simon O'Gorman began reporting for Extratime in 2010. He remembers Milltown and Flower Lodge and, back in the mists of time, saw Diego Maradona play at Lansdowne Road. He now lives in Co Kildare and reports on Shamrock Rovers among others. Simon can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org