John Cotter. Tommy Dickson/INPHO

John Cotter sets aside Uefa licence questions to focus on matters close to hand

The interim boss admits he doesn’t know who will be in charge for the upcoming Europa League qualifier.

THERE ARE MANY questions to be answered and ambitions to be explained, but such is Cork City’s precarious position, there’s not a whole lot of time to address them.

After a dreary 1-1 draw against Finn Harps at a sparsely-populated Turner’s Cross last week, John Caulfield’s time with the club came to an end with the club left languishing in eighth place.

John Cotter was promoted to the role of interim manager, and he made an instant impact with a surprise 1-0 win at Bohemians last Friday night. 

It was Cork’s fourth win of the season and first since beating the same opponents at Turner’s Cross in the middle of the March, meaning that half of Cork’s wins this year have been against Bohs. 

Cotter was supported by Caulfield around that game, receiving a message of good luck ahead of kick-off and returning to the dressing room to find a ‘Congratulations’ on his phone from his former boss. 

The win didn’t budge Cork from eighth in the league, but a win against UCD this evening can move them level on points with seventh-placed Sligo Rovers. They are currently 14 points from third-placed Bohs, and while Cotter was reluctant to be dragged into talk about European football next season after last week’s win at Dalymount, this week he played down talk of the Europa League foray ahead of Cork this season.

Cork are in the first qualifying round of this season’s Europa League, but Cotter does not have the relevant coaching badges to meet Uefa criteria for the competition. Their rules state that a participating club’ head coach needs to have a Pro Licence, and while Cotter is currently doing the course, he has yet to complete it. 

At his media conference this week, Cotter admitted he doesn’t know who will be in charge for that game. 

“Not currently, no. The Pro Licence is an ongoing thing, so I’ll keep doing the course and keep working hard here for the best of the club. It’s all about the club, and our aim is to get the club up the table.

“I don’t know [who’ll be in charge]. It could be you! It’s something that will be discussed by the people in the club, I’ll be involved in that but I couldn’t give you an answer now. That’s the honest truth, I’m just focusing on Friday.” 

He was also reluctant to be drawn on whether his interim spell in charge is an audition for the job on a full-time basis. 

“My focus is on getting this club up the table, and getting the players’ confidence back. And look, whatever comes from that I haven’t thought about it.

I’m here to do a job for the club and the team, and that’s what I’ll do to the best of my ability. With the staff and players there I have no doubt we can do that and get up the table as quickly as possible.

“No other thoughts enter my head. My head is purely on Friday night and getting three points.” 

UCD are among the few sides in the league below Cork at the moment, and after a promising start to the season will arrive at Turner’s Cross amid a wretched run of form. 

Since beating Cork on 15 April, they have lost five games in a row, and last Friday became the first team in the league to lose to Finn Harps. 

Cotter is eager to take into that game the positives gleaned from last week’s win, mainly their remedying a tendency to concede late goals.

“It was a problem. It was something we were brilliant at – seeing out games – and I thought we were back to that on Friday, I don’t think we ever looked in danger of conceding. The clean sheet is massive and gives everyone confidence.

“We need to build on it, last Friday night is gone. This is another tough game, but we’ve done our homework on how we’ll play against them. “We need to be at our best to get three points.” 

Mark McNulty warms up before the game Mark McNulty. Oisin Keniry / INPHO Oisin Keniry / INPHO / INPHO

Goalkeeper Mark McNulty was equally positive about that Bohs win. 

“It was a huge result for us. Not many people gave us a chance going to Bohs.

“They are flying high this year so to go up there and get three points, quite comfortably as well: I don’t think they had any shots on target in the whole game, we defended properly. It was a proper Cork City performance.

“We gave up nothing and kept a clean sheet.” 

Turner’s Cross held just 1612 people for the Harps draw last time, but McNulty is optimistic that the numbers will swell tonight. 

“I think they will. Supporters were quite frustrated with the way we were going, losing games, and nobody likes to go and watch a losing team.

“Hopefully we are after turning that corner now.” 

Cork have doubts over Karl Sheppard, Graham Cummins, and Darragh Crowley. Gearóid Morrissey, forced off against Bohs, is rated as 50/50. 

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