Cork City v Shamrock Rovers, LOI

Jack Byrne has lived up to the hype in a Rovers jersey this season. Image Credit: Sportsfile

David Hollywood looks forward to the League of Ireland meeting between Cork City and Shamrock Rovers at Turner’s Cross, Friday, Apr 5th, KO 7:45pm

Form:

Cork City’s up and down start to the League of Ireland season continued at Oriel Park last week when they were comprehensively outplayed against Dundalk.

Prior to that John Caufield’s side won three from four and could have jumped Dundalk in to second in the table had the result of that game been reversed.

How and ever, they lost and find themselves in sixth place in the table, 12 points off against their next opponents.

The 12 points could be six if they win their two games in hand on Shamrock Rovers.

Before they play those games in hand, they have the opportunity to inflict just a second league defeat upon Rovers.

See Bar One Racing’s Cork City v Shamrock Rovers match betting here

The Dublin side have hit the ground running this season and look as slick an Irish outfit as there has been in recent years.

Aaron McEneff and Jack Byrne have been impressive in midfield. Rovers however, have been profligate in front of goal.

Their last league game against UCD is a case in point.

There were a host of guilt-edged opportunities passed up in the opening 20 minutes. Instead of having the game put to bed, Michael Bradley’s men had to sweat all the way up to 83rd minute before Jack Byrne’s second on the evening put them back in front.

The Match:

It’s hard to read Cork at the moment.

As a club they appear to have been left reeling from the off-season departures of the likes of Jimmy Keohane, Barry McNamee and Kieran Sadlier.

John Caufield has repeatedly highlighted his side’s financial difficulties and has sought to dampen expectations.

That method can go one of two ways, a win against Rovers on Friday and he’ll be in the right. Another defeat will provoke questions about the team’s ambition.

On the pitch, Cork’s defence has not been up to muster, eight goals conceded in seven games won’t win silverware if they were to keep up that average.

Equally, going forward, they’ve been hit and miss. Eight goals scored, but  four of them came in one manic game against Finn Harps.

Cork City have drawn blanks in three of their seven Premier Division encounters, including last week’s insipid display against Dundalk.

Shamrock Rovers travel to Turner’s Cross in fine fettle in terms of away form. They did lose against Bohemians at Dalymount, they followed that with away wins at St Patrick’s Athletic, and most recently at Finn Park against the league’s basement side Finn Harps.

What will give them confidence is their ability to hold on to the ball. In all but one game this season (vs Derry) Rovers have had the majority of possession.

If the Tallaght side can strangle Cork in midfield, half the battle will be won at Turner’s Cross.

Cork is never an easy place to go, and it will certainly be a litmus test of Bradley and Rovers’ title credentials.

Still though, Rovers to win for me.

Team News:

Cork have a number of injury worries ahead of Friday evening, Alan Bennett, Seán McLoughlin and Dan Casey are doubts ahead of this game. Colm Horgan and Daire O’Connor miss out.

John Caulfield did reveal that Matty Gillam is working his way back from a hamstring injury, but the game comes too soon for him.

For Rovers, Sam Bone will be unavailable owing to hamstring injury of his own. There will be late fitness checks for Dan Carr and Ethan Boyle, and there’s a few more nursing minor knocks following their EA Sports Cup defeat against Bray.

Verdict:

It’s rarely an easy game at Turner’s Cross, Cork certainly have the tools to trouble Rovers, but I can’t look beyond an eighth league win for the Dublin side.

Based on Cork’s capabilities, and their home advantage, a narrow odds-against win for Rovers in the Match Betting seems the value here.

Shamrock Rovers to Win at 5/4

 

 



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