Cork City needed one point against northern rivals Derry City to bridge a gaping 12-year drought and win the league championship, and that’s exactly what they did at Turner’s Cross tonight.
John Caulfield’s side won the domestic title for only the third time in the club’s history with a less than impressive performance in a tense and nervous goalless draw before a sell-out crowd of 5,857 on a night when the 1,100 seater Derrynane Road stand was closed after storm damage by Ophelia over the weekend.
The Shed End saluted a far from glossy performance with a pitch invasion at the final whistle but the fact of the matter is that Cork City have been crowned league champions of Ireland and, by association, they are the best team in the land and on the verge of a first ever double for the Leeside club.
City made two changes from the side that drew 0-0 at Bohemians on Friday last with Steven Beattie coming in at right-back for Greg Bolger after a suspension and Conor McCormack in for Kieran Sadlier in a holding midfield role with Gearoid Morrissey.
The visitors made one change from the team that beat Finn Harps 3-0 with Dean Jarvis coming back in for Lukas Schubert while Nicky Low, back from a match ban, was on the bench.
It was a tentative somewhat lack-lustre start to the game and Derry showed little interest in attacking and allowed the home team the majority possession but Cork did very little with it.
McNulty saved from Conor McDermott’s chip and Ger Doherty saved from Stephen Dooley before Aaron McEneff blazed high over the bar at the St Anne’s end.
Doherty punched away from Alan Bennett, Gearoid Morrissey fired over and Patterson forced McNulty to a decent save in a rare venture into Cork territory on the half hour.
Harry Monaghan headed over from Ben Doherty’s corner and then Ger Doherty held a free kick from Garry Buckley and then parried a shot from the same player as a tense and nervous first half ended goalless with the home crowd becoming a little restless.
City have two league games left to play away to St Pat’s at Inchicore on Friday night and home to Bray Wanderers a week later before they get to grips with Dundalk in the FAI Cup final at the Aviva Stadium on Sunday, November 5.
Cork City (4-2-3-1) - McNulty; Beattie, Bennett (capt), Delaney, Griffin; McCormack, Morrissey; Keohane, Buckley, Dooley; Sheppard.
Subs. Sadlier for Dooley (61 mins), McCarthy for Beattie (70 mins), Campion for Sheppard (91 mins), Bolger, Ellis, Williams & Smith (not used)
Derry City (4-2-3-1) - G. Doherty (capt); McDermott, Barry, Cole, Jarvis; McEneff, Monaghan; B. Doherty, McNamee, Curtis; Patterson.
Subs. Low for Jarvis (76 mins), McIntyre, Todd, Toal, Schubert, S. McBride & Grimes (not used)
Referee: Ray Matthews (Longford)