CORK CITY claimed outright leadership of the League of Ireland Premier Division title race with a 1-0 win over Bohemians at Turner’s Cross.
They moved a point ahead of St Patrick’s Athletic, who had a match in hand, as City extended their unbeaten run to 20 games.
The game’s only goal came after just four minutes and it was of the ‘soft’ variety after the visiting ’keeper, Dermot O’Neill, coughed up an easy chance for John Caulfield to gleefully accept.
Phil Harrington, the number one at the other end, launched a high booming kick up field, where Pat Morley managed to head it on, and in what should have been a comfortable ball to collect, O’Neill allowed it bounce off his chest for the eagle-eyed Caulfield to capitalise and edge City in front.
Yet, O’Neill’s heroics prevented the home side from adding to their tally as he produced top-drawer saves to frustrate Morley, twice, Caulfield and Kieran Nagle in a City-dominated opening half.
The crossbar also got in the way of leading scorer Morley from adding to his dozen goals after meeting Nagle’s cross to thunder a header against the goal frame.
That came moments after O’Neill had recovered from concussion following an attempt to stop Caulfield from rounding him in the area. The ’keeper hit the back of his head off the ground and only resumed when treated by medics for the best part of five minutes.
Despite being on the back foot for most of the opening 45 minutes, Bohs did manage to create one clear-cut opportunity, which should have provided an equaliser moments after Caulfield struck.
David Tilson blocked an attempted clearance by Paul Bannon and the rebound fell invitingly for Ollie Walsh, whose chip over Harrington dropped wide of his near post.
City welcomed back former Limerick City player Declan Hyde from injury for his first game in three months and he almost capped an impressive display with a goal. He formed part of an exciting midfield quartet alongside Dave Barry, Patsy Freyne and Nagle who combined to set-up the chance only for Hyde’s effort to carry the crossbar.
City’s search for that elusive second clinching goal continued on the resumption with Bohs defending frantically to deny them while offering little in attack.
The game was a dress rehearsal for their first-round FAI Cup tie in March and it showed the Dublin side’s lowly league position wasn’t a true reflection of their ability.
Prior to kick-off City defender Declan Daly was presented with the supporters’ club Player of the Month award for December.
CORK CITY: Harrington; Murphy, Daly, Bannon, Long; Freyne, Hyde, Barry, Nagle; Morley, Caulfield. Sub: Cotter for Hyde 72.
BOHEMIANS: O’Neill; Brady, Gorman, Whelan, Duffy; P Byrne, A Byrne, Tuite, Walsh; Douglas, Tilson. Subs: Dunne for Tuite 68 and Murray for Douglas 73.
Referee: M Tomney (Dublin)
UCC spoiled Highfield’s Munster Senior League title ambitions by earning a 3-3 draw at Model Farm Road.
It was a major set-back for ’Field, who slipped a point behind leaders Dolphin with just one game remaining.
For third-placed College it represented just reward for their battling qualities, notably in defence after the home side enjoyed lots of possession and territory.
Shea Fahey, Mark O’Driscoll and Ultan O’Callaghan were prominent for ’Field up front but scoring opportunities were rare.
Both Terry Dillon and George O’Sullivan missed kicks at goal and College took advantage to take the lead through a David O’Mahony drop-goal in a sweeping counter-attack.
Highfield stormed the Students' line in the second-half only to be thwarted by defiant tackling and it took a second drop-goal, this time by home out-half Grant O’Halloran, to tie the game on the hour.
HIGHFIELD: G O’Sullivan; P O’Regan, T Dillon, N Boland, C Ronan; G O’Halloran, A O’Shea; R Bevan, K Lynch, captain, K Ronan; M O’Driscoll, U O’Callaghan; B Herlihy, S Fahy, F Cooper.
UCC: B O’Neill; G O’Donnell, J Shalloe, J Lyons, G O’Donovan; D O’Mahony, J Nolan; L Murphy, M Brady, J White, captain; P Coveney, H Kos; G Donnelly, B O’Mahony, M Corcoran.