While Cork City generally prefer to play into the Shed End for the second halves of games, on Friday night they took the opposite approach and it worked to good effect.
Hosting an unbeaten Bohemians side as they chased a first home win of the season, City targeted a good start and so, when captain Karl Sheppard won the toss, he opted to defend the St Anne’s End.
City manager John Caulfield admitted that it was part of the plan, hoping to channel the intensity of last year’s FAI Cup semi-final win over the Gypsies.
“It was, really,” he said, “because we hadn’t scored, and in the cup semi-final replay last year we felt we had done that.
“We just felt that we needed to get out there and see if we could get at them and score because they hadn’t conceded much and we hadn’t scored.
“That was part of the plan and it worked, so we’re happy with that.”
Having lost 2-0 at home to Waterford and drawn with Derry City, City were without a home goal but defenders Conor McCarthy and Dan Casey rectified that statistic.
“I think, when you look at it as a 90-minute game, it was more like a Cork City performance,” Caulfield said.
“We had spoken during the week about how Bohs were doing exceptionally well, they have a lot of energy in their team and they move the ball well.
“We hadn’t won at home, not even scored at home. We felt that we had to start the game properly and there were times when we played really well. Certainly, there were times when Bohs took over and dominated and we needed to show our discipline and our shape.
“They had a couple of early chances but, after that, we defended really well. Obviously, Conor got the header and Graham had a header that was disallowed, it probably should have stood, then Dan got a great goal from a free kick.
“Overall, we were very solid and the crowd were electric. We’re happy with that.” Having gone two goals ahead, City sat deeper as Bohs had the better of the play, but the defending was positive, with Conor McCormack and Garry Buckley outstanding in midfield.
“You get parts of matches like that,” Caulfield said, “Bohs are a very good side and they move the ball well.
“The wind picked up as well, it was got very strong coming up to half-time and sometimes it can be difficult, you’re trying to play passes and they’re not getting there.
“Graham led the line really well and we did keep our shape and keep our discipline. Ultimately, we stopped Bohs really from getting a chance and that was pleasing.
“That comes from a lot of hard work.” The manager had a lot of praise for his goalscoring defenders, whose mature performances belied their youth.
“Conor’s still only 20 years of age,” he said, “probably unlucky not to get called into the Irish U21s.
“He’s still learning the game but he’s a tremendous player. Because he’s been with us since he’s 18, people assume he’s a senior player but he’s still only learning the game.
“He’s improving all the time and I think his spell at right-back improved him as well. Dan, beside him as well, he’s a phenomenal talent.
“We watch these guys every day and at that age it’s about concentration, making a mistake and learning from it.
"Both of those guys can be really great players, for us and maybe further, they just need to be consistent and we’re happy about that.” There was one drawback as midfielder Dáire O’Connor was forced off shortly before half-time with a dislocated shoulder. He is likely to be out for a while.
“It’s a pity, because Dáire has come down to us this year and he’s been a bit special,” Caulfield said.
“He’s done really well and even before he went off, he went on that mazy run where he cut inside and he was very unlucky not to score.
“We just have to assess his shoulder, obviously he dislocated it, so it just depends on the ligament damage.
"We’ll assess that Monday or Tuesday, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he was out for a few weeks.”