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Cork City face St Pat’s in 2019 league opener

Wednesday, 13th February, 2019 4:56pm

The 2019 SSE Airtricity League season kicks-off this weekend with Cork City away to St Pat's in Dublin. City have had a mixed but generally positive preseason to date, with varying results along with a host of new signings in the hopes of recapturing the league title once again.

2018 was largely a disappointing season for the Rebel Army on the silverware front and the new season brings John Caulfield and his side the chance to recapture the glory of the 2017 season, when the league and cup were both captured.

On Tuesday the club announced the signing of forward Liam Nash from Gillingham, with the 23 year old saying: “It’s brilliant to finally get it over the line and I am very excited for this new chapter. It is a new challenge and I can’t wait to get going. The lads are great, the staff are great and we are looked after very well here. The training is good, the tempo, the intensity...and I am really looking forward to getting my head down and getting some games.

“I feel fit and ready to go, and hopefully, when I get the opportunity, I will take it with both hands. I want to get myself back out there, my confidence, scoring goals and working hard. I just want to give everything on match day and hopefully progress and get some goals!”

Boss Caulfield said of the signing: “Liam sees this as a real opportunity; he knows he needs to come here and get goals. He’s been in training and has been at the last few games, including the President’s Cup, so he knows the intensity and the standard of this league. He looks like a real poacher and we believe he is a guy who can get some goals for us.”

Caulfield will hope that Nash can find goal-scoring form, particularly following the departure of Kieran Sadlier who finished the second highest in the league in 2018 with 16 goals, although Graham Cummins finished in third with 15, so Caulfield certainly has his options for the year ahead.

Caulfield also confirmed that Ronan Coughlan has left the club while John Kavanagh has moved to Finn Harps on loan until the summer.

“Kav has returned to Finn Harps on loan. He had a very good second half of the season there last year, and it is a chance for him to continue playing regularly. Harps were very happy with him, so this move is a good fit for all parties,” Caulfield commented.

It was also confirmed prior to City's 2-1 loss to Dundalk in the President's Cup on Saturday that the club had re-signed Kevin O'Connor on loan from Preston North End. O'Connor announced his return with a second-half goal direct from a free-kick when City were trailing 2-0 but failed to find an equaliser, losing the President's Cup for the first time in four years.

On his return to the club, O'Connor said: “I’m happy, everybody knows how I feel about this club, so it is great to be back. I’ve been in training with the lads, so I am looking forward to getting my head down, working hard and going again.

“There are still a good few of the lads here from when I was here before, and the new lads seems bang on. It seems like a really good bunch and hopefully things will go well on the pitch. I want to get games, that is my main target, but we want to be challenging up around the top of the table as well. I am just hoping to come back, work hard and play as many games as possible.”

City's hosts on Friday night, St Pat's, had a fairly average 2018 league campaign, finishing in fifth place with more losses then wins overall, 16 to 15. The fifth place finish meant St Pat's missed out on a place in the Europa League, also.

However in October last year the club announced that Harry Kenny, the assistant manager when St Pat's won the league in 2013, had been appointed manager with a goal to get the club competing in Europe again.

Not only that, but Kenny has also added Gary Shaw, David Webster, Ciaran Kelly, Cian Coleman, Georgie Poynton, Brandon Miele and Michael Drennan to the club's squad, and Pat's will be no easy start to the league for City who play Waterford at Turner's Cross a week later.

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