Tuesday 16 January 2018

Cork looking forward to Haka test

Daniel McDonnell

GIVEN the way Cork City have been brushing opposition aside in recent weeks, Eircom League authorities are no doubt delighted to have the Leesiders representing them in Europe tonight.

The Leesiders welcome Finland's FC Haka to Turner's Cross for the first leg of their UEFA Cup first qualifying round clash looking for an impressive ninth straight win in all competitions.

Naturally, they expect something different from Haka compared to the opposition they face week-in, week-out, but the Finnish club have been suffering licensing difficulties and financial problems this year, something which many of their Irish counterparts would empathise with.

Haka currently sit in fifth spot, but normally challenge at the upper end which is why they have competed in Europe every year since 1998.

Such is Cork's form at the moment, they should not be too concerned about the opposition. Rather, they must ensure their own momentum is not derailed by the broken ankle suffered by John O'Flynn in Donegal last Friday -- an injury that will keep him sidelined for at least two months.

O'Flynn's partnership with Dave Mooney was a key factor in the latter's emphatic run of goalscoring, with Denis Behan now stepping in and hoping to have the same success.

"It is a setback, but it is up to everyone to deal with it. We have to concentrate on the games we have ahead of us," said Cork boss Alan Mathews.

During his time at Longford, European competition was not kind to Mathews, with a second leg collapse against Welsh club Carmarthen three years ago one of the worst results suffered by an Irish side in recent times.

With a superior Cork side at his disposal, the Dubliner is now looking to erase that memory with progression past tonight's opponents.

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