Title-chasing Cork try to get over the line
Cork City v Dundalk Live RTE 2 TV, KO 7.20
Cork City look as if they will creep over, not breeze past, the finish line in their bid to land a first league title since 2005 and only the third in the club's proud history.
But with his side just 90 minutes away from sealing that league title, City boss John Caulfield has asked his players for that extra effort so they can get over the line, win the title tonight and then enjoy, not endure, the last month of the season.
Back in the summer, when Cork were on a stunning nine-game winning streak while challengers Dundalk stumbled, City fans wondered how early the league could be wrenched away from Dundalk, a date in August set in the minds of some Cork supporters.
But since the sale of Sean Maguire and Kevin O'Connor to Preston, City have struggled, really struggled: a side who won 20 and drew 21 of the league games in which Maguire featured have lost four of the last six, the most recent a 2-1 defeat in Limerick last Friday.
Still there in second place, Dundalk's recent form is stunning - four wins, four clean sheets with 16 goals scored - but it could all end at Turner's Cross this evening, if Cork can just summon up one more win.
" Every team is raising their game when they play against us and we have to manage that and get over the line," says Caulfield, a league winner as a player with the club back in 1993.
"Tonight is a different type of game, because we play our nearest challenger and we are at home.
"No matter what has gone on before, tonight is an opportunity for the guys to go back out in front of our supporters and give a fantastic performance, and that is what we need to do," added Caulfiled, keen to seen his side get back to the form which made them such a force in the first half of the season.
"It doesn't just happen, you have to earn the right to win things and you win nothing easy. From my point of view, I want our lads to go out and give a performance," he added. "I want to see can we give the kind of performance that we have been giving all season."
Even if Dundalk win, the subsequent gap (eight points) would leave them with a lot of work to do but striker David McMillan says their keep their focus.
"It's in Cork City's hands but we have to keep doing what we are doing at the moment," he says. "We can only affect our own results. We want to go and win. Our form against Cork hasn't been overly good in the last while."