Cork City 2
CORK CITY turned Shamrock Rovers green with envy with a Paddy’s Day smash-and-grab raid at a wet and windy Tallaght Stadium yesterday.
John Caulfield’s side were lucky in the extreme but they have opened up a six-point lead overnight at the top of the SSE Airtricity Premier Division table.
Top scorer Seanie Maguire scored both goals, the match winner from a 86th minute penalty, and he has now netted eight goals in seven consecutive matches going back to the FAI Cup final winner against Dundalk last November.
City took the spoils in the end but they had to survive a second half onslaught in which Rovers’ Graham Burke hit the crossbar before the magical Maguire swung yet another tight encounter in City’s favour.
City remain unbeaten after five league games and preserved their 100% record but Saint Patrick himself must have been smiling down on them!
The swirling wind and sheets of rain were a big factor from the kick-off as it howled from right-to-left blowing into the Tallaght town end and ruffling the nets and all four corner flags.
Even the floodlight pylons were swaying in the strong wind.
City made two changes with Gearoid Morrissey back in for the injured Greg Bolger (ankle ligaments) and Stephen Dooley recovered from a groin strain to play in the middle three with ex-Hoop Karl Sheppard dropping to the bench.
Rovers, for their part, made one change with midfielder Graham Burke back from suspension and in for the injured Brandon Miele in Stephen Bradley’s 4-1-4-1 formation. Paul Corry is still sidelined with a knee injury.
Rovers with two wins and two defeats to champions Dundalk and Derry City were a goal down after just seven minutes when Sean Maguire netted his seventh goal in seven consecutive games.
It was a bizarre goal, to say the least, as Rovers ‘keeper Tomer Chencinski in trying to leave the ball run out of play saw Maguire nick it off him and roll it into an empty net at the car park end of the grounds.
If ever there was an opportunist strike by the Kilkenny man this was it and he will hardly score an easier goal all season as the Leesiders got a start they could hardly have envisaged on a damp and overcast evening.
Rovers’ Ryan Connolly and Darren Meenan were spoken to by referee Jim McKell in the opening minutes for late tackles on both Conor McCormack and Garry Buckley but the Clonmel-based official kept his yellow cards in his pocket.
But when David McAllister clattered into Stephen Beattie outside the box, McKell had no option but to reach for a yellow after 21 minutes.
Kevin O’Connor forced Chencinski to a tip over save from the free kick as City continued to create the better chances.
Cork in their all-red away kit looked composed and comfortable in possession and a threat going forward as they went with their 4-2-3-1 set up against the Hoops 4-1-4-1 formation with Rovers skipper Ronan Finn screening his back four.
Gary Shaw caught Johnny Dunleavy late and then left-back Trevor Clarke fouled Stephen Dooley and he got a yellow card mid-way through the first half.
Ryan Delaney got in a great slide tackle to stop Burke in his tracks before Rovers drew level at 1-1 on 33 minutes from the penalty spot.
Former Rovers player, Conor McCormark handled the ball as Shaw tried an ambitious overhead kick trying to get to Darren Meenan’s cross and McKell promptly pointed to the spot.
Burke scored with a low left-footed shot that McNulty nearly got to on his left hand post.
McNulty saved from Finn’s header in added time in the first half after Simon Madden’s cross found him unmarked and in space.
Rovers led the corner count 4-3 ten minutes into the second half as both teams won corner kicks that came to nothing in the worsening conditions as the rain drifted in from the nearby Dublin mountains.
City introduced another ex-Rovers man in Karl Sheppard for Beattie after 61 minutes in the first substitution of the game and he slotted in wide left with Dooley on the right but then Dunleavy pulled up with a knock and while he was adamant he wanted to stay on the pitch with just over 20 minutes to go he had to give way to Alan Bennett.
Rovers had the better of the second spell as they contained City’s attacks and drove on themselves but the whole game turned again, four minutes from the end, when David Webster upended Maguire as they chased Ellis’ flick on to the end-line.
Maguire slotted home with a low drive and the three points were winging their way to Cork after a brief stop-over at Rathcoole’s Poitin Stil.
Shamrock Rovers (4-1-4-1) - Chencinski; Madden, Webster, Devine, Clarke; Finn (capt); Meenan, Burke, McAllister, Connolly; Shaw.
Subs. Boyd for Shaw (73 mins), Doona for Connolly (80 mins), Lopes, O’Connor, Heaney, Bone & Horgan (not used)
Cork City (4-2-3-1) - McNulty; McCormack, Dunleavy (capt), Delaney, O’Connor; Morrissey, Buckley; Beattie, Keohane, Dooley; Maguire.
Subs. Sheppard for Beattie (61 mins), Bennett for Dunleavy (70 mins), Ellis for Dooley (76 mins), Campion, Nanetti, Griffin & Smith (not used)
Referee: Jim McKell (Tipperary)