By far the most exciting game of the 21st round of the Irish Premier League is the one between Cork City and Dundalk, the top favorites for lifting the trophy this season. The visitors have the upper hand, because they won the first leg by 4-0 and also have three points ahead, but the playing field could be leveled tonight. They’re in good shape now and despite the fact that they were eliminated from the Europa League qualifiers, the visitors are still a formidable opponent.
The official website features a couple of articles regarding the upcoming match, with most writers being optimistic about their favorites’ chances of winning the match: http://www.dundalkfc.com/kenny-hails-rossiter-influence/. Things would’ve been much better had Dundalk scored one more goal on the road after losing by 0-2 in front of their fans, but even so scoring twice against inexperienced opponents was a decent comeback for the Irish side.
With 49 points to their name, they are in good shape to win the championship but one false step might be enough for them to sink. Cork City is not only their closest rival, but also the most dangerous team of all competitors, mostly due to their flawless home record. They currently sit in the second place with 46 points and they know that this is a do or die situation and will not settle for a draw.
The fact that they lost by 4-0 in the first half of the season greatly hurt their chances, but nothing is lost and a string of positive results can bring them back in the driver’s seat. The hosts need to be particularly careful about blocking Hoban which is Dundalk’s most prolific striker with 13 goals and the only one to play tonight. This is the visitors’ Achilles’ heel, because with a single quality forward, it is very difficult to exercise constant pressure over Cork City.
The hosts lost two games in a row and failed to score a single goal, but even so they have one of the best home records among all Irish Premier League teams. In 10 games played in front of their fans they won seven times, including the last six and the last 10 head to head games clearly favor the hosts, with Dundalk winning just once. Bookmakers are overly optimistic about the leader’s chances to win on the road and as a result overprice the hosts. It is worth giving Cork City some credit ahead of this match, while using the safety net of a double chance wager.