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Dublin: 4 °C Wednesday 13 November, 2019

Stuart Byrne column: Cork and Dundalk would both be worthy champions

The SSE Airtricity League Premier Division title comes down to one game on Friday night.

Dundalk v Cork for the league should be a cracker.
Dundalk v Cork for the league should be a cracker.
Image: Donall Farmer/INPHO

SO THE PREMIER Division title is going down to the wire as Dundalk and Cork City meet in a title decider on Friday night.

I was lucky enough to win two league championships with Shelbourne on the final day of the season — in 2004 and 2006.

In the first, we had been cruising in the league but our run in the Champions League took its toll on the team and we dropped points after picking up injuries and suspensions. Going into our last fixture, we were away to St Patrick’s Athletic and needed just a point to see off second-placed Cork City.

Dave Rogers was suspended so we were forced to rejig the team around and I was switched back to centre-half to partner Jamie Harris in a position I had played maybe once before in my career.

We were poor that night at Richmond Park and only just managed to see out a 0-0 draw. We never even looked like scoring. In the back of our minds, we knew that a draw would be enough and it didn’t help.

Dundalk didn’t impress me at the Carlisle Grounds last Friday night. I know the conditions were awful but, as I pointed out on Soccer Republic last night, they struggled in a couple of areas. With a huge wind on their backs, the Lilywhites were happy to sit very deep and instead of trying to keep Bray pinned into their half, they stood off them too much.

In circumstances like that, you need players to adjust to the circumstances and react by communicating to each other.

It will be interesting to see how both teams cope on Friday night because Cork only need a draw. They are a really well-organised team who have showed they are capable of grinding out results. On the other hand, Dundalk have the ability to go all out and win it so it’s a mouth-watering prospect.

I may have backed Dundalk to win the title earlier this season but you have to give Cork a huge amount of credit for what they have achieved this year. The league table doesn’t lie and when it is all said and done and Friday night, whichever of the two clubs is top will be worthy champions.

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Stuart Byrne

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