St Patrick's Ath -v- Cork CityThu, Oct 25 2012
ST PATRICK’S ATH
As if the looming Cup final, and the breaking of a hoodoo every bit as powerful as that of the Babe Ruth curse, wasn’t enough pressure, St Pats have a lot to play for in their final league game of the season on Friday night.
A win against Cork City at Richmond Park could, if Drogheda slip up away to Bohemians, earn them second place in the league table. A draw will be enough to guarantee a top three finish and European competition in 2013.
But defeat raises the spectre of being overhauled by Shamrock Rovers on goal difference and missing out on Euro ball next year. A four goal swing is all that’s required to see the Hoops snatch third place should they beat Sligo at the Showgrounds and Pats get mugged by Tommy Dunne’s rebels.
Liam Buckley’s men enter the game on a run of three straight home wins but, overall, they have won only one of their last four league outings. A 5-0 hammering of UCD was surrounded by a scoreless draw away to Drogheda and, most recently, defeats to Sligo Rovers and Derry City.
Buckley will be keen to guard against any slip in momentum as his players approach a ten day period in which the stakes are very high indeed. It’s not good news, then, that he must plan without Sean O’Connor who is suspended following what was arguably a harsh sending off against Sligo Rovers last time out.
Also missing for Pats will be the injured Mark Rossiter.
Tommy Dunne’s side have had a thoroughly respectable campaign having won back their place in the top tier last season. After a horrible start City picked up the pieces to put in some fine performances and battle their way to mid table safety. And a win over St Pats on Friday night could even earn them a top five finish and a place in next season’s Setanta Cup.
Current holders of fifth place, Derry City, have finished their season and, with a three point gap and inferior goal difference, they can only look on as City attempt to overhaul them on the last day.
City come into the game on an impressive run, having lost only one of their last six league games, a 3-2 reverse at Shelbourne two weeks ago. In that time they have beaten Derry, Bray and Dundalk and kept four clean sheets along the way.
Speaking before the game Dunne also underlined the fact that his side had performed well against St Pats in their two previous meetings.
“We have played well against St. Pat’s this season”, he said. “I think they have been evenly matched games. Obviously Pats have been more consistent over the course of the season, but there has not been a lot between the teams when we have met. We are capable of getting a result at Richmond Park, but St. Pat’s are a good side, so we will have to perform well to get the result we want.”
City’s only two absentees will be the inured duo, Garry Buckley and Brian Lenihan.
Referee: Paul Tuite.
Just one goal has been scored between these two sides so far this season. Christy Fagan got it to earn Pats the three points at Turner’s Cross back in August.
Cork City are on an upward trajectory having won 9 points in the opening series of games, 13 in the second series, and with 14 already in the bag in the third with one game yet to play.
Both teams’ top-scorers this season have a total of 15 league and cup goals. Christy Fagan for Pats, and Vinny Sullivan for City.
St Pats 8/13; Draw 23/10; Cork 9/2.
A home win; 2-1.
St Pats Injury News: Mark Rossiter.
St Pats Suspension News: Sean O’Connor.
Cork Injury News: Garry Buckley, Brian Lenihan.
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 email@example.com