While it may not have had the same importance as recent meetings between the sides, this Cork City victory over Dundalk was lustily hailed by the home crowd.
Dáire O’Connor’s goal just before the half-time whistle was the difference, giving City a first win over the Lilywhites since April of 2018 and back-to-back league victories for the first time since May of this year. The Rebel Army had to defend well in the second half, and had goalkeeper Tadhg Ryan to thank for a number of good saves, but they held out to build on the win over UCD last week.
Having had their first home win since May last week against UCD, City had two changes with Ronan Hurley and Garry Buckley coming into the team for Shane Griffin and Joel Coustrain.
Dundalk, beaten by Bohemians in their previous outing, settled better and almost had a goal inside three minutes. After Daniel Kelly dispossessed Dan Casey, he squared for what looked set to be a Patrick Hoban tap-in but Conor McCarthy got in a vital challenge. While Dundalk felt it should have been a penalty, referee Robert Hennessy allowed play to continue.
It took until the 16th minute for City’s first chance of note, a long-range effort from Dáire O’Connor which was straight at Aaron McCarey, and by and large Dundalk continued to have the better of the play.
Just after the half-hour, Michael Duffy’s low cross was dummied by Daniel Kelly and allowed to run to Seán Murray, but he was denied by Alec Byrne. Not long after, Byrne’s pass allowed Garry Buckley to stretch the play and find Karl Sheppard in space but Seán Hoare was alert to that danger.
Coming up to half-time, Dundalk’s Robbie Benson almost opened the scoring as he helped on Dane Massey’s header from Michael Duffy’s corner but Byrne got in the way and the importance of that stop was magnified as City took the lead moments later.
When Buckley worked the ball forward to Ben O’Brien-Whitmarsh, his pass for Dáire O’Connor beat the offside trap and the winger slotted past McCarey for his fifth goal of the season.
That sent City in leading at half-time and captain Conor McCarthy had an effort on the resumption, his header looping wide from Ronan Hurley’s free kick. At the other end, Tadhg Ryan had to be out quick when Daniel Kelly sought to play in Chris Shields. Then, the goalkeeper did well to save from sub Jamie McGrath following a nice Patrick Hoban ball when Dundalk broke after Conor McCormack looked to have been fouled on the edge of the area.
Duffy and Hoban had other opportunities for Dundalk without testing Ryan, but the in the 81st minute he had to tip over a Robbie Benson shot and then on 85 he did even better, brilliantly denying Dane Massey following Michael Duffy’s corner.
That was as close as Dundalk came, and City took the points.
Ryan; McCormack, McCarthy, Casey, Hurley; Morrissey, Byrne; O’Connor, Buckley, Sheppard; O’Brien-Whitmarsh (Stokes 83).
McCarey; Gannon, Hoare, Boyle, Massey; Shields, Benson; D Kelly (G Kelly 77), Murray (McGrath 56), Duffy; Hoban.
R Hennessy (Limerick).