Cork aim to kill off Gypsy curse and keep title dream alive
IT HAS been an amazing season for Cork City who still have a league title within their reach.
But City boss John Caulfield is aware that it could all come crashing down on their heads tonight if they don't adopt the right approach as they need to come up with a result against their bogey side this season.
Depending on tonight's results, Cork could head into the last weekend of the league campaign just one win away from a first title since 2005, or they could be getting used to their fate of a second-place finish.
With seven wins from their last nine games, a well-attended Turner's Cross could expect to bank another three points at home to a mid-table Bohs side tonight. But so far this season this Bohs side have beaten and drawn with Cork in the league and also knocked City out of the FAI Cup after a replay.
A runner-up spot and the subsequent return of European football to Turner's Cross next season, a remarkable story and a real tribute to the Cork fans who saved the club from extinction only a few years ago when a financial basket case became a supporter-owned club.
Caulfield wants the title race to go all the way but he is aware of that Gypsy curse which they have to overcome.
"They have taken points off all of the top teams. We need to play with a really high intensity and be up for the game from the start," says the Cork boss ahead of that visit by Bohs.
"We are up against a team that we haven't beaten yet this season; they have caused us a few problems, but we had a similar situation with Sligo and we beat them a couple of weeks ago, so we will be hoping that we can play well, because we will need to play well to beat them."
Cork have been playing well and beating teams in recent weeks, enjoying wins over Shamrock Rovers, Limerick, Sligo Rovers, Drogheda United and UCD, a good recovery after points were dropped against strugglers Bray and Athlone.
"The situation for us over the last six or seven weeks has always been that we have had to keep the pressure on and see could we bring it to the last game of the season. We know that if we don't take the points tonight, then it won't go to the last game. We know that if we do, then it will and that is all you can ask for. Every week has been like a cup final, because we knew we couldn't afford to drop any points," added Caulfield;.
"I had a gut feeling from way out that points would be dropped on the run-in, and I knew we couldn't drop any more points after the Athlone match. Dundalk are still in a better position than us, and we know that if we drop points on Friday night, then the league is over. We've known that for a few weeks and we have kept winning. There'll be a fantastic crowd at Turner's Cross and it is really important that we give a good performance and make sure that we bring it to the last game of the season."
With a weakened squad which could see teenage defender Stephen Best come in for his league debut, it's a big challenge for Bohs, but manager Owen Heary reminds his squad of their good record against City this season.
"We know there's going to be a big crowd there, and they're vying for the title. We expect a very tough game but there will be a bit of doubt in their minds, from the fact that they haven't beaten us this season," said Heary.
"They're a physical team, they're strong, and they'll go out to win the game. But the three points are as vital to us as they are to them. We want to move up the table.
"We're down a few bodies but we'll put out a team that can compete on the night."