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Dublin: 9 °C Wednesday 16 October, 2019
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'Physically, he's a freak. He's in ridiculous condition — a stone lighter than he was'

Cork City manager John Cotter paid tribute to Mark O’Sullivan, who has recently returned to the club.

NOW BACK AT Turners Cross for a third spell, Mark O’Sullivan and Cork City are a partnership which has enjoyed an array of happy days together firing on all cylinders.

The striker first signed for Tommy Dunne on an amateur status in 2010 back in the club’s First Division days and made two appearances, before enjoying immense success at Avondale — which included three FAI Intermediate Cups.

Mark O'Sullivan dejected O'Sullivan during his previous spell at Cork City in 2015.

He returned in 2014 under John Caulfield and helped City win the FAI Cup and President’s Cup two years later, before departing again — this time for a brief spell at Waterford and then his beloved Avondale, again.

At the start of July, O’Sullivan couldn’t turn down the opportunity to come back a third spell. “I am thrilled to be back at City,” he said. “I had a very enjoyable time here previously and I am looking forward to working with John Cotter and the lads again.”

Now 36, and with his cult status still fully in-tact amongst supporters from those glorious days of old, O’Sullivan is back lining out at Turners Cross again, hoping to help the club he loves during a current difficult spell.

Having won the double in 2017 and achieving five consecutive top two finishes between 2014 and 2018, the Leesiders have slipped down the pecking order this season — currently in 8th spot with just six wins from 26 games in the Premier Division.

Manager John Cotter paid tribute to O’Sullivan ahead of tonight’s meeting with St Patrick’s Athletic, where his side hope to build on a promising 1-1 draw with Shamrock Rovers on Sunday and a bittersweet European win over FC Progres Niederkorn.

“Physically, he’s a freak,” Cotter told RebelArmyTV of his new recruit. “To be honest, he is. He’s in ridiculous condition and that’s just natural, to be honest.

Lee Grace and Mark O'Sullivan Mark O'Sullivan competing for possession with Lee Grace of Shamrock Rovers last Sunday. Source: Ken Sutton/INPHO

“I think he’s probably nearly a stone lighter now than he was when he was full-time. He’s in ridiculous condition, to be fair, and that [his condition] was never an issue.”

A number of first-team players have left the club this summer, including Graham Cummins, Garry Comerford, Gary Boylan and Seán McLoughlin.

Cotter said players like O’Sullivan would not only help raise spirits at the club amongst fans, but also help drive his new team-mates on by setting high standards.

He’s just one these fellas who’s naturally fit. The main thing is that he cared about the club and that he’s passionate about the club.

“All those things have come out in the last few weeks. As I said, he’s infectious to the other players.

“He drives the other players on and he leads them in that way. It’s been great.”

City suffered a sucker punch against St Pat’s the last time the sides met at the end of May.

Karl Sheppard’s opener was cancelled out in the last minute of stoppage time by Simon Madden, who snatched a last-gasp point for the Saints with the last kick of the game.

Cotter said he expected a tough test later this evening, but that Cork did not ‘owe’ Harry Kenny’s side anything after their dramatic meeting two months ago in Inchicore where two points slipped away late on.

“They got late goals in the game down here and the last game in Richmond Park,” the City boss said.

“It would be great to get a win, but we know we have to put in a performance like we did last Sunday and the previous week.

“We wouldn’t be saying that we owe them one, but we just need to go and put in a performance and get the three points and try to get a bit of momentum.”

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Aaron Gallagher

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