Cork City are keen to ensure a short stay in the SSE Airtricity League First Division and two Cians – Coleman and Bargary – were on target to give them victory in Friday night’s local derby league opener against Cobh Ramblers.
At Turner’s Cross, the Rebel Army came out on top in a well-fought encounter, Bargary scoring what proved to be the winner in the 75th minute, tapping in from close range after a Dylan McGlade cross wasn’t dealt with. Though Ramblers did push to equalise for a second time, Colin Healy’s side held out for a first opening-game win since 2018.
City were without the re-signed Steven Beattie, ruled out with a hamstring injury, but they gave debuts to Gordon Walker, George Heaven and Jack Baxter. Cobh’s new boys were David O’Leary, Ciarán Griffin and Darren Murphy, the latter beginning his second spell with the club.
Within a minute of kick-off, Griffin almost had a dream start as Conor Drinan found him but Mark McNulty saved, while Drinan had a half-chance just after that. At the other end, Dylan McGlade had a great opportunity to put City in front but his shot hit the crossbar and then the post before bouncing out.
Things settled after that frantic start, City with the better of the play but Ramblers well in the game, with the excitement coming from external sources as a flare was thrown in over a gate at the Curragh Road end. There were still chances, with Cobh left-back Daryl Walsh coming in from the flank and sending a long-range shot whistling past the post while Cian Bargary drew a save from Seán Barron at the other end.
On the half-hour, Heaven had to get a good block in on a Lee Devitt effort in the City area but City would have the lead as half-time approached. When Baxter twice went close from a Dylan McGlade corner, leading to another, a well-worked set-piece paid off. McGlade sent a low ball to Bargary and he helped it on to Coleman, who slotted home from near the penalty spot.
City had further chances before half-time, with Coleman having a header taken off the line by John Kavanagh, and after the restart McGlade had a shot kept out by Barron. Just before the hour mark, Ramblers captain Kavanagh tried to catch McNulty out with a free kick from distance but the veteran goalkeeper saved.
Ramblers didn’t panic as they sought to find a way back to parity and did exert more pressure in the City half. While Devitt captain Morrissey and the excellent Baxter had ensured that the hosts were difficult to break down, the visitors were level in the 66th minute thanks to direct play as Conor Drinan helped a long ball on to Griffin, whose early shot gave McNulty no chance.
The concession unsettled City for a period, but they were back in front on 75, benefiting from a switching of their wingers. Good work by sub Alec Byrne helped McGlade find space on the left and, under pressure from another sub, Beineón O’Brien-Whitmarsh, Barron couldn’t claim the cross, allowing Bargary a tap-in.
Drinan almost had Ramblers level immediately, his 25-yard shot deflected on to the underside of the crossbar, bouncing down and out, and then defender Charlie Lyons volleyed over when Lee Devitt helped Darren Murphy’s corner into his path. It was as close as they would come, with City taking the points.
McNulty; Walker, Coleman, Heaven, Hurley; Baxter, Morrissey; McGlade, Galvin (Byrne 59), Bargary; Murphy (O’Brien-Whitmarsh 72).
Barron; Phillips, Kavanagh, Lyons, Walsh; Murphy, O’Leary; Turner (O’Reilly 80), Drinan, Devitt (Cooper 80); Griffin.
A Patchell (Dublin).