Soccer: City slump worries fans
A short few weeks ago Cork City fans were looking forward to a safe, if unspectacular, conclusion to the 2012 League campaign. Sitting in a mid-table position, with an impressive unbeaten run still in progress, the only cause for concern seemed to be an inability to hold a lead in the closing stages of matches.
Matches that City had dominated were drawn due to this tendency, though fans were still reasonably confident. In a great many cases, City had dominated the opponents and supporters reasoned that once this problem was sorted, a rapid climb up the table was likely.
Then the wheels came off! A 0-1 home defeat to St Patrick’s Athletic, in a match that City should have won given the amount of chances they squandered, was followed by last Friday night’s 3-1 hammering at the hands of UCD at the Belfield Bowl.
After a performance that some City fans described as “truly abysmal”, the final whistle was greeted with silence by the normally vociferous travelling support. It was clear from post-match comments that manager Tommy Dunne was also far from pleased with the team’s display.
Supporters have now begun to question whether the team has what it takes to stay in the Premier Division. While this might appear to be a pessimistic view, the slump in form is worrying and needs to be halted quickly.
The manager hasn’t been helped by a long injury list with John Dunleavy, who suffered an ankle ligament injury expected to be out of action for at least four weeks. Colin Healy, Neal Horgan, Graham McCarthy, Cathal Lordan, Kevin Burns and Eoghan Murphy are all still injured, though the manager is optimistic that Healy and Horgan could return to action soon, possibly for this Monday’s match versus Drogheda United at Turner’s Cross.
While the spectacular winning of the First division title last season raised everybody’s hopes for the 2012 campaign, City entered the top flight knowing that their squad wasn’t as strong as they would have wished. The loss of top scorer Graham Cummins just weeks before the start of the season is the most obvious problem, as evidenced by City’s inability to score goals, but there exists another difficulty; many of the team are still quite inexperienced, with several still in their early twenties.
The size of the squad is also a problem, with the team almost picking itself, such is the lack of cover in most positions. While the City under-19 squad is producing some talented young players, ensuring that they’re ready for the transition to senior level is a task that takes time.
Cork City have three tough matches in succession; tonights match versus Drogheda, followed on Friday by the FAI Cup tie versus Shamrock Rovers in Tallaght on Friday. The following Friday sees Rovers pay a return visit to the Cross in the League. A major improvement on recent form will be needed if City hope to get anything out of these matches.