DISAPPOINTMENT as Cork City’s seven-game unbeaten run in the league ended at the hands of league leaders Shelbourne at Turner’s Cross.
This loss meant that City dropped to seventh position as Athlone secured a 1-0 victory against Bray.
Was I expecting a defeat against the league leaders? Not with the way City have been playing of late.
I expected more from them, however, it’s important to take into account the number of injuries Healy had in his side added with the suspensions of Cian Coleman and Gordon Walker, it was a fairly young and new-look side. In particular the pairing of Alec Byrne and Darragh Crowley as centre-backs. To be fair to them, and full-backs Dale Holland and Rónán Hurley, they defended well for the majority of the game however a brace from Ryan Brennan was enough to keep the leaders at the top.
While the past few weeks were breathtaking as City improved by preventing the concession of sloppy goals and were far more of a threat going forward, this was more like their early-season performances.
Were Shels that good that they made City look this average? I do believe Shels’ physicality and experience caused City problems but I still didn’t think Shels played superb football.
Even their goals came as a result of City being sloppy. The first allowed Brennan unmarked inside the six-yard box to head home while the second was a defensive error by Darragh Crowley which led to a penalty kick converted by Brennan for his second.
So although Shels dominated the game, they created very little from play in the final third and therefore I expect Colin Healy will be disappointed to have conceded in the manner in which they did.
What frustrated me most about Shels was the amount of long, diagonal ball they kicked all evening. Now fair enough, they probably played to their advantage knowing that City lacked height, but I would have liked to see them play more football because when they did, around the middle of the park with George Poynton involved in every move, it was good to watch.
This didn’t happen enough and captain Luke Byrne was the main culprit, hitting every ball long up towards Yassine En Neyah, who, to be fair to him, showed great pace all evening but rarely got past Holland.
Unfortunately, City didn’t really have any clear-cut chances all evening. Not for the want of trying with Cian Bargarry and Cian Murphy making great runs at times however they failed to test keeper Brendan Clark all evening and that was disappointing.
Shels’ experience showed throughout. Although they didn’t have much threat from City, they controlled the game from start to finish, they converted their chances and they slowed down the game down when they needed to.
Manager Ian Morris has his side well organised, all of whom put in a good shift and I also thought he utilised his substitutions at the correct time also. He brought on fresh legs and although City came into the game a little at that stage, the visitors dealt well to finish out the game.
Just over 2,000 fans attended the game and credit to them for getting behind the team right until the end. They were vocal right throughout especially at almost every whistle from referee Gavin Colfer. I thought he had a poor game, and players and supporters voiced their annoyance throughout.
Speaking of fans, huge respect goes to the Shels fans and substitutions who joined together with the City supporters to stand and applaud the late John Kennedy on the 31st minute of the game to commemorate the 31 years of volunteer service he provided to his beloved club. A beautiful gesture.
City will look forward to a break next week while the FAI Cup quarter-finals take place. This will be an opportunity for lads to rest and for those who have been injured to maybe make a return for the next game which is the Munster derby away to Treaty United.
Another tough test for Healy’s men but one in which I believe they can secure all three points.