GEAROID MORRISSEY HOPES that the pain of last month’s defeat to Dundalk can spur Cork City on to a big win over their bitter rivals this evening at Turner’s Cross.
Dundalk ended a run of seven games without a win against the Leesiders on 9 March at Oriel Park when Patrick Hoban’s goal secured a 1-0 victory which was much more dominant than the scoreline suggests.
“To lose in anything it hurts you, but especially when there’s a bit of rivalry,” City midfielder Morrissey said ahead of tonight’s meeting with the Lilywhites.
“I think it just fuels the fire inside you to say: we need to perform here. It gives you that bit of sharpness. I think you need that. You need something in the locker to energise you and keep you thinking: right, that’s not happening again.”
The teams go into this game level on points, with Dundalk’s superior goal difference keeping them at the summit of the Premier Division table. Stephen Kenny’s undefeated side, who won three consecutive league titles between 2014 and ’16, are keen to regain the crown they relinquished to John Caulfield’s double-winning team last season.
“Naturally in any league when the two best teams play, everybody needs to be on their game,” Morrissey said. “When everybody’s on their game collectively, I think you come up a level, no matter what that level is. Playing Dundalk, the games in general I think are very good. They’re feisty, there’s a bit about them. There’s goals in those games. There’s everything you look for in a football match.”
He added: “You go into the shop the day before the game and everybody’s onto you about it. You can’t really go anywhere without someone mentioning it. It consumes the city, especially that we’ve been at the top for the last few years. I think everybody’s interested.
“Turner’s Cross is special. You can play in Tallaght or you can play wherever, in any ground in the country. When Bohs play Rovers, it looks like a decent atmosphere but I don’t think it comes near Turner’s Cross when there’s a top-of-the-table clash and it’s sold out. The atmosphere is brilliant.”
Despite City producing several below-par performances recently, Morrissey believes the champions are capable of showing that they remain the standard-setters in the Premier Division.
“If we’re at it collectively and if every player ups their game, I think we’re the best team in the country,” he said. “I’d have full confidence in us to put in a performance against anybody and come out with three points.”
Meanwhile, City boss John Caulfield has insisted that he enjoys a “fine” relationship with Dundalk manager Stephen Kenny. The pair have clashed verbally on several occasions in the past, most recently in the aftermath of last November’s FAI Cup final.
“In this league, it’s seldom that there’s much interaction between any managers really, particularly from where we are because you’re travelling all the time and a lot of clubs don’t have manager’s offices in the grounds. It’s not like in England where they all have a drink afterwards, a glass of wine or whatever,” Caulfield said when asked about his opposite number.
“I get along with all managers. Certain people choose not to get along with me and that’s their decision. I’m passionate about the league, I promote the league and that’s what I’m there for. Myself and Stephen get along fine.”
Asked if he’d invite Kenny for a post-match drink in the Horseshoe Inn beside Turner’s Cross, Caulfield smiled: “I have no problem going to the Horseshoe. Maybe Stephen has.”