Thursday, July 13, 2006

CORK FACE APOLLON VISTA

Firstly apologies for the red-top headline, sometimes I just can't help myself. If it works for ZZ.... to the topic at hand, Cork's performance against Apollon Limassol.

For obvious reasons the boys weren't at full strength. Prematch this didn't appear to be a massive problem, after all it was only a Cypriot side they were playing; their national side currently sleeps at 92nd in FIFA's world rankings accompanied by such cruiserweights as Algeria and Gabon.

But it came to light that this side were not in anyway representative of Cypriot football; they were populated by hardened pros from across the continent; assembled at the behest of a Middle East moneyman who has allusions to Abramovich status - not unlike the situation at Shelbourne so! Gone were the commentary asides about postmen and fishermen; replaced by talk of World Cup squads and other such fanciful stuff.

And a fine strapping bunch of men they were and continue to be; the seed of the Stasi evident in their gentle tackling and delicate touch. But what of Cork? Well they seemed strangely off kilter.

They gave possession away at Aldi prices, the only rhythm generated in the ground came from the stands, they were unable to increase the tempo when required. All in all I felt it was a disappointing outing for el Rico's outfit.

Goldengob talked it up afterwards, and rightly so. Of premium importance was their clean sheet, and they are a goal ahead at half time. These are undoubtedly positives, but there is much to worry about.

Every time I've seen Cork this season I have come away with the view that if you can isolate Georgie they struggle. It doesn't necessarily make them a bad side, but it throws them out of their stride - and that gives you a chance.

Being unfamiliar with all the facts of what is going on in Georgieboy's boudoir I can only echo the sentiments of drunkenfoularsed man on bar stool: - 'no player can EVER be bigger than the team'-this moment of clarity from the aforementioned gusset-tongued individual bears my 100% endorsement. How el Rico attempts to enforce this mantra is his bag of rocks, that's what the man gets his gyno for. He needs to sort it immediately, if not sooner.

His side lacked subtlety on this occasion; Billy Woods, too often cast in cameo, was their best performer on the night and justice was served when he thrashed a fine right - footed effort into the visitor's net. O'Donovan and Fenn flattered regularly but inexplicably faltered regularly. These may well be the subtle signs of an ill - focused team; players with other things playing on their minds; the jetsam and flotsam of a turbulent week down South.

This game has lifted my head out of my backside, and 'tis not a pretty sight. We are not the only one's in Europe striving to improve our footballing status. These Cypriot sides are supposed to be cannon fodder. Our lads had 26 games in their legs; Apollon are out of season - that wasn't obvious. They had a relatively large travelling support, evidence of the club's success and a football fans desire for same.

Cork need every element in their favour if they are going to breast the tape in this particular tie. It's a 9pm kick - off [local time] next week, at least they won't be playing in extreme heat. They are going to have to trawl the depths of their determination and courage in the face of an expected onslaught from a capable side; and they will need Johnno and Georgieboy in the trenches with them. Good luck lads!

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