Shamrock Rovers 2
Cork City 1
Cork City’s FAI Cup campaign came to an end at Tallaght Stadium on Monday evening as they fell to SSE Airtricity League leaders, and cup holders, Shamrock Rovers.
Trailing 1-0 at half-time, City got a huge boost early in the second half as Gearóid Morrissey levelled but Danny Lafferty’s strike for Rovers – his second – with 22 minutes left proved to be the winner.
City made seven changes from the league loss to Derry City last Friday week, with centre-back Jake O’Brien given his first top-level start, having previously appeared in the Munster Senior Cup. Captain Morrissey also returned for his first start since before the lockdown.
Unsurprisingly, City found themselves on the back foot for much of the first half as Rovers enjoyed much of the possession, albeit without creating an overload of chances. Their first real opportunity of note came in the 14th minute as Dylan Watts had a low shot from outside the area following a corner but it was straight at Liam Bossin in the City goal. Soon after that, O’Brien did well to get in a clearing header when Rhys Marshall’s cross looked destined to be met by Dean Williams.
At the other end, Deshane Dalling and Connor Simpson were showing flashes of creativity but Rovers looked likelier to score and Roberto Lopes almost did just before the half-hour, his header from a corner just about kept out. Seven minuts before the break, they did manage to break the deadlock though as Graham Burke’s low 25-yard shot was parried by Bossin and left wing-back Danny Lafferty was following up to convert the rebound.
It remained 1-0 at the break, with Fenn shaking things up as Mark McNulty came on in goal for Bossin with Dale Holland replacing Charlie Fleming. McNulty was called into action straightaway as he had to tip over a Williams shot but, on 50, City were level.
It was the Rebel Army’s best move of the game, with Cian Coleman and Dylan McGlade linking well on the right, McGlade’s pass allowing Morrissey to sweep home a first-time shot from just inside the penalty area.
Rovers almost produced an instantaneous response as Jack Byrne picked out Lafferty in the area but McNulty saved with his legs and Kevin O’Connor cleared the danger. City were showing more attacking endeavour in the second period, seeking to push Rovers high up the field, though they never engineered an opportunity to take the lead.
Instead, the game’s third goal went the way of Rovers, with Lafferty doubling his and his team’s tally midway through the half, profiting when he was found unmarked by Byrne’s clever pass after some lovely build-up play.
There was still plenty of time left for City to find an equaliser but Rovers did well to frustrate them. Sub Scott Fenwick headed wide with a half-chance while Rob Slevin had a looping header from a McGlade corner which was easy for Alan Mannus in the Rovers goal.
Dáire O’Connor and Ricardo Dinanga – the match-winner in the previous round against Longford Town – were brought on late in the game as City searched for a leveller, but Rovers held out.
SHAMROCK ROVERS: Mannus; O’Brien (Finn 74), Lopes, Grace; Marshall, O’Neill (McEneff 74), Watts, Lafferty; Burke (Kavanagh 89), Byrne; Williams (Breen 74).
CORK CITY: Bossin (McNulty half-time); Fleming (Holland half-time), O’Brien, K O’Connor, Slevin; Coleman, Morrissey, Ochieng; McGlade (Dinanga 28), Simpson (Fenwick 75), Dalling (D O’Connor 87).
Referee: N Doyle (Dublin).