Ex-Drogheda United manager looks ahead to weekend's action and pays tribute to Ryan McBride
"He never gave a centre forward an easy game, that was for sure and certainly when you were picking out who would pick up people at set pieces, he was No 1 in the Derry team."
Those are the admiring words of former Drogheda United manager Mick Cooke about Derry City captain and defender Ryan McBride, who sadly passed away last Sunday at the age of 27.
Looking back on his experience of managing against Derry teams featuring Ryan McBride, Mick explains that he was "always very competitive but always very fair" in his approach to the game and a gentleman on and off the pitch.
Mick's words echo the sentiments that have been spoken about Ryan McBride by friends, family, team-mates, the community and those who met him, and his loss is one keenly felt.
Mick was speaking to Newstalk.com ahead of this Saturday's League of Ireland Premier Division fixtures with Cork City and Dundalk the first match of the day at 3pm.
This has been the battle of the Top 2 for the last three seasons with Dundalk prevailing each time when it comes to their finishing positions in the table.
Ahead of the fixture at Turner's Cross, Cork City could lay down a real marker as they have a three point advantage on Dundalk, have a 100% record and possess the division's in form striker Sean Maguire.
"I think certainly with the form that Cork and young Sean Maguire are in, it certainly wouldn't surprise me if they got the three points," says Mick.
With the season still in its early phases, Mick is not worried about Dundalk's title aspirations at this early juncture but fancies Cork to strike an early blow in the race for the championship.
"Where before you would worry about them in the big games, they've now learned not to be beaten and they can win games by the odd goal which they couldn't do before."
Prediction: "I've a sneaky feeling for Cork in this one".
It's been a very poor start by St Pat's standards this season with the club without a win and sitting rock bottom of the league after collecting just a single point/
And they face an inconsistent Shamrock Rovers at Richmond Park.
"But I thought they were quite good against Cork," says Mick of last week's defeat for Rovers.
"And I do think they are starting to get a small bit of consistency. Stephen Bradley is beginning to find out the difference from league games and pre-season games and is sorting out the team."
Prediction: "I wouldn't be surprised to see Rovers pick up the three points."
Bohemians and Drogheda United's respective form over the last three weeks, after contrasting openings to the season, sees the former climb up the table to seven points - one above Drogheda.
Mick says of Bohs: "The transformation from the first game to the fifth game has been amazing and I thought they looked very, very strong and well organised last time out and I thought they were unlucky not to beat Galway on the night."
Prediction: "I would go for Bohemians."
Bray Wanderers remain fourth, while Limerick are fourth from bottom ahead of a fixture that could end up being a real thriller.
"My worrying concern for Bray, although they scoring plenty, is they're conceding plenty as well. That must be a concern for Harry Kenny," says Mick.
"It's a hard one to call because Limerick are inconsistent although they got off to a great start by beating Sligo Rovers 5-1."
Prediction: "I will go for a draw with the way that both teams are inconsistent... you could be thinking a 3-3 draw or something. It will be entertaining."
Sligo Rovers picked up their first victory of the season last time out and face a Finn Harps that have shown resilience.
"I've been impressed by Harps. They have a win and a couple of draws. Sligo have got a win under their belt which is a great confidence booster because when the season starts, you tend to worry as the weeks go on if you don't get that win. They have that now so I'm sure Dave Robertson and the Sligo squad will be feeling more confident," says Mick.
Prediction: "With Harps' resilience and Sligo's confidence, I would go for a draw".