St Patrick’s Athletic will be looking to make it three semi-finals in four years in the Ford FAI Cup when they travel to face a Cork City outfit that have already defeated them in another quarter-final already this season at Turner’s Cross (kick-off 7.45pm).
Back in June, City defeated the Saints 2-1 in the last eight of the EA Sports Cup and with the Leesiders in the final of the secondary cup competition next week against Derry City, they’ve a hectic schedule coming up, with three games in the next eight days.
That should make the premier division team the favourites and if Danny North, who equalised coming off the bench against Shamrock Rovers last Monday, can see more of the ball than in the last meeting between the two, you’d have to fancy the Saints.
Both sides are likely to play their strongest possible starting XI – although Cork have a vital league game against Waterford United on Tuesday night as their promotion drive approaches its conclusion – and Saints boss Pete Mahon’s priority is to get tie over with on the night.
"We won't be making too many changes to the starting line up as this is a very important game for us in terms of our season,” Mahon says. "We'll be hoping to get the tie over with tomorrow and I'm sure Cork will be thinking the same.
"We've had a lot of midweek games recently and we would like to get back to a more regular schedule if we can. Cork also have the League Cup Final coming up next weekend so I'd imagine they won't want a replay either.
"We've seen them quite a few times this season and they're a very good side who will be very difficult to beat. We've been playing well lately though and picking up good results so we'll go down knowing that we're in good form and that we can win the game."
That good form has seen Pat’s come to within four points of current premier division leaders Derry City and they’ve lost just once in their last 10 games in all competitions.
Mahon will be without the services of David McMillan, out with a hamstring injury, and the cup-tied duo of Shane Guthrie and Sean O’Connor.
Cork, on the other hand, have only been defeated once to date – at home to Waterford United in the league – but their Achilles heel has been nine draws, leaving them under a bit of pressure to cement promotion.
Tommy Dunne’s side do have a couple of injury worries however, goalkeeper Mark McNulty is ruled out with a back injury, meaning James McCarthy will deputise for him, while Gearóid Morrissey and Neal Horgan are both doubts as they struggle to shake off knocks.
Daryl Horgan is cup-tied after he appeared for Sligo Rovers earlier in the competition before his loan-move to City.
“Although we got a good result on the last occasion we met, St Pat’s will go into the game as favourites, so we are under no illusions as to how tough a game this will be,” Dunne says. “We know what we are up against, but it is great for the club to be involved in big games like this, and we are looking forward to the tie.
“This game offers us the opportunity to test ourselves against one of the best teams in the country, and that is an opportunity that all of us, players and staff, are looking forward to.
“With this game and next week’s cup final both on television, our supporters have a great opportunity to turn out in numbers and show the rest of the country why this club should be in the premier division.”
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