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‘We’ve never had any fear of them’

Wednesday, 15th May, 2019 4:25pm

For the third time this season, Cork City will go in search of a win against Dundalk when they welcome the Louth side to Turner's Cross.

A 2-1 loss in the President's Cup in February was followed by a 1-0 loss at Oriel Park in March and this Friday represent's City's latest chance to get one over on their keenest rivals for the first time in 2019.

Much has changed since City and Dundalk last met. Manager John Caulfield has left the club with John Cotter holding the reins, while a poor run in the SSE Airtricity League has been stemmed for now with two wins on the run in their last two league outings against Bohemians and UCD.

Kevin O'Connor, on loan from Preston North End, has himself experienced a better run of form in City's last couple of outing, form he hopes to continue at Turner's Cross on Friday.

“We know the quality that's in the dressing room and that it wasn't good enough from us ourselves. We had to get ourselves out of it and I think we got back to what we do best, which is always defend well, make sure we're hard to break down and we did that against Bohs and we got a good goal and obviously we saw it out from there.

“We've put our head down, people have points to prove and the performances have gone up a little bit which is good. We've two badly needed wins and hopefully we can kick on again. When you're winning games everything is good, when you're losing games you find every little crack that's in the place but the lads are focused on trying to win the game. Whatever game is next is the most important, it's Dundalk on Friday which is the most important game of the season so far.”

The two wins under John Cotter's tutelage mean City remain in eighth in the league but the team is now in a far healthier position points-wise with fifth placed St Pat's on 22 points, just three above City who are on 19. Depending on how the season plays out, a successful league is still very much possible for O'Connor and his teammates.

“We have it in us, we're a good footballing team and obviously people have opinions on the way we want to play but we just have to back ourselves on the pitch, have a bit more belief in ourselves and do it on the pitch.”

Dundalk sit top of the table on 34 points and have lost just twice so far this year, but despite the 15 point gap, O'Connor believes if any team can push Dundalk all the way, it's City.

“Over the years the Dundalk/Cork rivalry has been massive, we've gone toe to toe with them, we're probably the only team in the country who's pushed them as far as we did. We've made them better, they've made us better, that's the way it was over the years and lately they've kicked on a little bit, they're starting to find their form again this year, and unfortunately we went the other way but we're starting to find a bit of form ourselves.

“Hopefully on Friday we can put in a good performance and give the crowd something to cheer about because they deserve it, they've stuck with us and we've to give them something to shout about and I've no doubt in my mind that we can turn them over - it's just up to us to do it.

“They came down to Turner's Cross in the President's Cup and those games can go either way, they're a curtain raiser more than anything; lads are still trying to get their fitness but you still don't want to lose to them, you don't want to give them an inch in the season. I thought we did very well in the second half, but we were 2-0 down at half time, we just couldn't claw the second goal back.

“Then up there (Oriel Park) we were a bit disappointed. I thought we defended very well but then they got the goal and we didn't really create too much to get it back. But at Turner's Cross now on Friday hopefully there's be a great crowd there to support the lads and hopefully we can turn them over.”

He continued: “Dundalk will come at us a bit more and try create a few more chances, obviously you have Hoban up top and you've the likes of Duffy, McEleney and Kelly, it's a good squad – they're going to create chances. It's just a matter of us limiting it as much as we and then creating our own, and when we create them, we have to take them.

“The fear going in to some games is that they're already beaten before they walk out on to the pitch and you can't look at any game that way, you have to take every game that comes and enjoy the game. I think against UCD we created more chances in that game then we had in the previous eight or nine and lads were a bit more fluid in their movement.

“I thought Karl Sheppard was brilliant, he was back to his best the other day and we just don't have any fear of them, we've never had any fear of them and we can't afford to have any fear of them on Friday.”

Cork City play Dundalk FC at Turner's Cross on Friday 17 May. Kick-off is at 7.45pm.

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