ALTHOUGH Cork City’s playoff hopes ended with their scoreless draw with Bray Wanderers at the Carlisle Grounds on Friday evening, there were plenty of positives for them.
City knew that it would take a miracle for them to make the top-five, but the attitude the players showed against Bray should have satisfied the City supporters.
One name I’m sure City fans were surprised to see on the teamsheet was David Harrington.
The goalkeeper came into the starting 11 instead of Mark McNulty, for his first league appearance for the club, and I was very impressed by his performance. His father, legendary City goalkeeper Phil Harrington, will have been proud of his son’s display.
Harrington didn’t have to make any notable saves, but what he had to do, he did very well. Early on in the game, there was a moment of indecision between Harrington and Josh Honohan, with the latter opting to clear the ball, rather than leave it for his goalkeeper.
I assume Honohan would have received a late shout from his ’keeper to leave the ball for him. I was worried that Harrington might have been cautious after that, but he was far from it.
With Bray’s next free-kick into City’s penalty area, Harrington rushed from his line to punch clear — and there is no better feeling for players than when their ’keeper is brave enough to come and claim set-pieces.
I’m sure that would have given the City players a lot of confidence in Harrington’s ability. He was quick off his line, and played like a sweeper at times. Harrington’s kicking was excellent, and the crosses he came for, he gathered with ease.
Harrington would have been nervous before the game.
Although he is a City player, this was a bit of a trial for Harrington to show his manager, Colin Healy, that he was good enough to be involved more in first-team games. Healy was no doubt very impressed by Harrington’s confident display.
It wasn’t a game for the purist, with the referee, Michael Connolly, being the busiest man on the pitch. I lost track of the amount of free-kicks and corners that were awarded, but from a City perspective, they will be happy with their improvement in defending set-pieces.
City aren’t the tallest team, and have struggled throughout the season at set-plays, but in recent games, players are taking more responsibility by not allowing their man to get away from them at set-plays. This was evident against Bray, who are a physical side and weren’t afraid to test City at every opportunity.
Cian Murphy will feel he should have done better with his opportunity on the half-hour mark. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, and I’m sure he will be wishing he opted to try and go over Brian Maher rather than strike low, but, to be fair, Maher was quick off his line and nine times out of 10, that effort goes through the legs of the goalkeeper. Maher was excellent and it’s easy to see why he is the Republic of Ireland U21 goalkeeper.
Bray were very direct and rarely attempted to pass the ball through the thirds. The Seagulls went back-to-front, but Cian Coleman and Honohan marshalled Richie O’Farrell and Gary Shaw with ease. Coleman and Honohan have been excellent when played alongside one another, and are the best centre-back pairing at the club. It’s just unfortunate that, due to injuries, we haven’t seen the two partnered together enough this season.
I thought City missed Dylan McGlade. The winger has been in fine form of late and could have produced that moment of magic needed in the game.
I am sure he would have been itching to impress against his former club.
It was difficult for City, because of the way Bray played. The Seagulls had the attitude of not wanting to lose the match, rather than trying to win it, but you can’t blame them, with the draw putting them within touching distance of finishing in the playoff spots.
City can start to focus on next season, now that they know for certain what division they will be competing in.