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Always the bridesmaid

'This is the strongest squad since I've been here' - Cork to 'lay down a marker' in President's Cup

We speak to John Dunleavy as Turner’s Cross hosts the League of Ireland’s top two clubs in the season opener this afternoon.

CORK CITY’S JOHN Dunleavy says they are ready to shake off the tag of nearly men this season by going one better and winning the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division title.

The Leesiders have had to settle for runners-up spot behind back-to-back champions Dundalk in the past two seasons, while they also suffered defeat at the hands of Stephen Kenny’s men in the FAI Cup final last November.

“It has been frustrating not getting over the line and the end to the last couple of seasons have been disappointing,” Dunleavy told The42 this week.

“But at the same time a lot of the younger lads would never have played in big games like that so we will have taken a lot of experience from it.

“We need to use that experience to spur us on so when the big occasions come again we know we’re ready for them.”

The club has lost several first team players in the shape of Dan Murray (retired), Liam Miller (Wilmington Hammerheads), Billy and Darren Dennehy (both St Patrick’s Athletic), John O’Flynn (Limerick) and Liam Kearney (released) in the close-season.

However, Rebels boss John Caulfield has been busy recruiting with Greg Bolger and Kenny Browne signing from the Saints, Gearoid Morrissey returning after a spell with Cambridge United, and Ian Turner and Stephen Dooley joining from Limerick and Derry City respectively.

Promising Celtic defender Eoghan O’Connell also arrives on-loan until July.

“This is my fifth season at the club and it is the strongest squad we have had since I’ve been here,” says Dunleavy.

The competition is incredible and it will surely give the manager a few headaches but they’re the type of headaches he wants to have.

“We’ve recruited really well and the boys in the squad have gelled in pre-season so hopefully we can challenge on all fronts.

“It’s a really ambitious squad (with the age profile of the new signings) and then you can add the likes of Alan Bennett and Colin Healy.

“Greg (Bolger) and Kenny (Browne) have been there and done it but they have plenty more to give. So we’re well-balanced in that regard.”

Greg Bolger Cork

Turner’s Cross will stage the meeting of the LOI’s top two sides this afternoon (2pm) and the defender will be looking to “lay down a marker” for the 2016 campaign with the Premier Division opener against Bohemians less than a week away.

“Every game is an opportunity,” he added. “Ourselves and Dundalk have been the best two teams in the country the past two years.

“It’s a chance for both of us to lay down a marker for the coming season and see where we’re at and how much we’ve developed in the off-season.

“There’s no doubt they will be taking it as seriously as we will and it will be a brilliant occasion for everyone. Turner’s Cross will be packed and there is nowhere else like it.

“When it’s full and the shed is up, the atmosphere is electric and it’s a pleasure to play there because our fans are brilliant.”

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