A third straight Munster Senior Cup win was Cork City’s tonight as the Rebel Army saw off Midleton in the decider at Turner’s Cross.
Always on top, City led 1-0 at half-time and two goals in the third quarter put them in a commanding position before a late strike gave Midleton hope.
City manager John Caulfield made ten changes from the team which beat Bohemians last week, with Colm Horgan the only survivor as he moved to centre-back alongside returning captain Alan Bennett. However, with Midleton defending deep from the off, the other end provided the bulk of the early action.
Wearing a new gold third kit, City enjoyed the better of the opening exchanges and the first real chance fell to right-back Pierce Phillips in the eighth minute, firing across goal following a nice diagonal pass from Kevin O’Connor.
With Garry Comerford spraying passes around from midfield, City continued to press and the opening goal arrived on 15. Phillips did well on the right and though his cross was too high for Dan Smith, the ball fell to Darragh Rainsford at the back post and though Midleton defender Cillian Hurley almost kept his shot out the ball ended up in the net.
To Midleton’s credit, they didn’t let the goal affect them and they continued to compete. Defender Kevin Murray tested City goalkeeper Tadhg Ryan with a header from Emmett Cotter’s free kick while Murray did well in his primary duties just after that, denying Liam Nash. Just before the half-hour, Midleton had their best chance of the half as Cotter’s free kick from the left was met by Jake Hegarty but he headed into the side-netting.
Smith nearly made it 2-0 in the wake of that, heading over from Nash’s cross, while a flowing move nearly saw Rainsford played in again, Cotter getting back well to defend as it remained 1-0 at half-time.
City rejigged things slightly for the second half, Nash going up front with Smith on the right and Tilley as the number 10 and it was the latter who played in Ronan Hurley just after the restart, the left-back shooting over.
On 51, Midleton’s Tijani Aibor tested Ryan with a shot from distance but just three minutes later City had doubled the lead, albeit in fortunate circumstances. When Tilley found Smith on the right, he intended to cross for Nash, but the ball managed to loop towards goal and crept in at the cop corner.
Midleton did go close again as Kelvin Kruschel’s 25-yard shot hit the post but City looked to have made the game safe midway through the second half. Having been brought down for a penalty, Nash took it himself and chipped the ball down the middle as Andrew O’Donoghue dived to his right.
However, Midleton refreshed their hopes on 73 as Kruschel shot from outside the area and Comerford, now in defence, tried to get his head in the way only to send the ball to the net. Hegarty tried to make it 3-2 with a free kick but he shot over.
With eight minutes left, City lost Tilley, sent off for a challenge on Murray which saw the defender stretchered off after a long hold-up. As a result, there were eight minutes of injury time, but City’s hold on the cup wasn’t shaken.
Tadhg Ryan; Pierce Phillips, Alan Bennett (Seán McLoughlin 72), Colm Horgan (Gary Boylan 62), Ronan Hurley; Kevin O’Connor, Garry Comerford; James Tilley, Liam Nash (Darragh Crowley 88), Darragh Rainsford (Garry Buckley 88); Dan Smith (Cian Bargary 68).
Andrew O’Donoghue; James McCarthy, Cillian Hurley, Kevin Murray (Jamie Collins 87), Alan Healy; Ray Lally (Luke Smith 90); Emmett Cotter (Robert Williams 80), James Leahy (Danny Morrissey 66), Tijani Aibor, Kelvin Kruschel (Loic Aubefang 90); Jake Hegarty.