HEADING into the final few games of the season, there was still that small chance City might make the play-offs.
However, unfortunately, that hope came to an end last Friday as Colin Healy’s Cork City only managed a draw away to Bray at the Carlisle Grounds in what was a must-win game.
It was the third draw against the same opposition this season and yet again another frustrating night for City. Healy’s side enjoyed the majority of possession but failed to convert any goal-scoring opportunities.
There were only a few but they know they should have done better.
Cian Bargarry and Cian Murphy created the best chances of the game and both will be disappointed not to have hit the back of the net when both outpaced their markers most of the evening, however superb goalkeeping by Brian Maher denied them.
The sides were 0-0 at the break and neither team could have complained about that as neither side created many chances, probably one apiece. While City might have created half-decent chances throughout it was Cian Murphy’s 1v1 on Brian Maher and Gary Shaw’s half-chance that were the best chances of the half and I would expect City were the most disappointed of the sides at the break.
I imagined City would push on in the second half and while they had a lot of possession, they found it difficult to break through the Bray defence. Although Bargarry and Murphy showed great pace, the final ball just wasn’t good enough, coupled with the fact that Maher’s goalkeeping was excellent, and therefore it denied City any real clear-cut chances which was frustrating.
I felt City played well in patches, played some great football and passed the ball well, but at no stage could I actually see them score. There always seemed to be too many Bray bodies behind the ball, yet City continued to try and walk the ball in.
While I admit it looked well at times, how they passed the ball around and showed good feet in tight areas, it’s the end result that matters and City’s final ball the majority of the time was disappointing.
What was needed last Friday was a top performance from City and three points to keep the faith for another while yet but unfortunately it wasn’t to be and they achieved neither. I have no doubt Healy will be disappointed.
In saying that he knew last Friday’s fixture would be a tough one. Was it one City could have won?
Yes, of course. And so were the last two encounters between the sides. But hasn’t that been the problem for City this season! Way too many draws and not enough wins.
One positive I took from the game was the performance of City keeper Dave Harrington. While he didn’t have a lot to do in the game, what he did have to do, he did well.
For a player who got very little game time this season, he looked very composed and comfortable on the ball and played with great confidence which was great to see. He enjoyed the ball at his feet and his cool and calm composure is something to be positive about for next season.
I believe this year will stand to City a lot. To be fair to them they are a young side and they certainly grew throughout the season.
They may have taken longer than expected, but credit to them for cutting out silly defensive errors, while at the other end, they became a threat up top.
I expect they will have learned a lot from this season. And they can bring that into next season and hopefully have a better start than they did this year.
For the remaining three games I would imagine Healy will play those who haven’t seen much game time this season.
Blood some of the younger players. Give them a taste of what football will be like for them next season.
There’s no reason why he shouldn’t. There is nothing to play for at this stage and who knows they might be more ready for it than Healy thought.