Time for Cork City to beat the odds

26 April 2019
By Bryan Smyth
bryan@TheCork.ie

Soccer

Having been accustomed to five consecutive seasons of entertaining title challenges, fortunes in the League of Ireland Premier Division have certainly taken a downward turn for Cork City. The 2019 campaign is already shaping up to be one that fans might prefer to forget, unless the team can kick into gear and start getting a run together.

It wasn’t so long ago that Cork City were regarded as one of the strongest teams in Ireland, certainly in the eyes of bookmakers and fans who regularly bet on matches, battling with Dundalk for the honour of being crowned champions. While the latter still enjoy the same team core that has been together for three or four seasons, changes in the squad have inevitably unsettled the cohesiveness of the team at Cork City.

Although Dundalk haven’t enjoyed the best of starts themselves, they’re still considered 10/11 favourites in the betting. This comes despite Shamrock Rovers topping the table after 12 games, and with Bohemians looking well-priced at 10/1 in second spot if they can maintain their positive start to the 2019 season.

Odds Stacked Against Cork City
Given the chances of getting back into the title race appear to be getting slimmer with each passing fixture, 50/1 odds with bookies would suggest that Cork City are now rank outsiders at best this season. Save for the most spectacular turnaround and dips in form amongst the teams above them, only the most ardent fans might opt for using their bet365 free bet credits to back the Rebel Army this term.

Quite the contrast compared to the last five seasons, during which time Cork City won the league title in 2017, and runners-up to Dundalk in the other four campaigns. Ahead of the current  season, bookmakers still fancied Turners Cross to be the key venue of another challenge for the title, from the Irish top-flight’s southernmost club. However, unless a swift change of fortune and form on the pitch is forthcoming, the team could well find itself mired in a battle against relegation.

The Urgent Need for Goals
Losing goal machine Seán Maguire to Preston North End in 2017 was hardly surprising, given his exceptional scoring record in the League of Ireland Premier Division. Nevertheless, Kieran Sadlier proved a good replacement by hitting 16 league goals in 35 games last season, while Graham Cummins also weighed in with 15 goals. Inevitably, though, Sadlier was lured away to Doncaster Rovers and League One football in England. Both he and Maguire have proven difficult to replace suitably in attack.

This season, goals have been spread very evenly throughout the side. While Cummins still provides experience in attack, the key problem is that he’s the only Cork City forward to have registered on the scoresheet this term, with all the other goals coming from three defenders and one midfielder. While a spread of goals throughout the team can often be seen as a positive, it’s also a concern when those leading the attacking line aren’t finding the back of the net regularly.

James Tilley, Karl Sheppard and Liam Nash have featured the most, in a squad that isn’t shy of attacking options, but none of the trio have opened their account in the league this season. That will inevitably need to change, and soon, if Cork City are to spur new life into the 2019 campaign. Otherwise, an unwelcome battle against relegation could be on the cards towards the end of the season.

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