Friday Night Showdown – Cork, Dundalk and a gap that needs closing

It’s no wonder the the push for ticket sales has started in earnest. Before you can land on the homepage of Cork City’s official website, you have to circumvent the ravishing “Friday Night Showdown” advertisement.

“Friday Night Showdown.” A quip that would not have gone amiss with a WWE Smackdown promotion, or, perhaps more seasonably, a Sky Sports push for a match of great, impending drama. By which, is meant, no real drama whatsoever.

But for those who both dictate the content of and influence the design behind the Cork City website, they’ve got a trick right here. This advertisement is accurate, because unlike most insincere, luring advertisements you may have encompassed on your travails today – this is relevant and real.

It is a showdown. It’s a showdown because after Cork lost to Bohemians on Friday night, the opportunity to tighten the gap between John Caulfield’s side and Stephen Kenny’s Dundalk side, slipped from their grasp. There are five games remaining for Cork and six for Dundalk. And there are six points between the two sides. So if that old, jaded, adage of a “six-pointer” ever had absolute relevance – then this is the right scenario.

To re-cap – not presuming it is or is not needed – Dundalk are on 73 points and Cork are on 67.  A six point difference. A comfort zone for Dundalk. But that zone widens and deepens with the caveat that Cork have a game in hand. So victory over Dundalk? No. It is not important – or a genuine stepping stone to progress. Forget that fluff. It is essential. Scrap that; it is compulsory.

So if Dundalk win on Friday night in Cork, can Kenny celebrate or take the title for granted? No. Strictly speaking, not. But it is a cup final, because a win for Dundalk leaves nine points in the mix – with a further three possible with the game in hand. So Cork must win. Even if they do, it is only one of several parts of the narrative that must go their way. But they must win.

And with that, the arc is complete. “Friday Night Showdown”? Don’t worry about the hyperbole; the hype will take care of itself. Step-off and observe. The seasons pinnacle could well unfold in Turners Cross next Friday night.