Saturday’s affair at St. Coleman’s Park, despite the preseason cobwebs and muddy pitch, proved to be a competitive affair for a friendly. Cork City earned a 1-0 win over Cobh Ramblers with Sean McLoughlin’s goal kickstarting City’s preparations for the 2018 season.
For this annual City vs County pre-season friendly between the Ramblers and the Rebels, both sides came in freshened from both the off-season with a number of new signings and players on trial. They included Irish under-21 international Dany Kane with the Rebel Army along with Norwegian underage international Garib Gerkondani.
A young Cobh Ramblers side included Denzel Fernandez, Kevin Talyor and Adam Mylod, all tried and tested from the under-19 National League and Cork City’s adventures in the UEFA Youth League.
Energetic and recharged, it was the Leesiders who dominated much of the play with standout performances from Jimmy Keohane and Tobi Adebayo-Rowling. It was a game that Ramblers likely fancied themselves for an upset and early on Charlie Fleming caused City some difficulty, crossing for David Hurley inside the City box only for new boy Aaron Barry to clear the lines.
This spurred City on, with Sean McLoughlin setting up Shane Griffin on the left hand flank, but the difficult surface prevented Griffin controlling the ball which fizzed out of play.
With five minutes on the clock though, City grabbed the opening goal. Griffin swung a set-piece into the box and, in the resulting chaos for control, up stepped McLoughlin who buried the chance past Paul Hunt.
The old cliché in football that scoring leaves you venerable, was not the case for Cork City who pushed on after the goal, with Adebayo-Rowling, Colm Horgan and McLoughlin, putting dangerous balls into the area but they all failed to connect with the head of Gerkondai in the centre.
City dominated the procession, with Conor McCormack sitting firmly back in midfield controlling distribution comfortably. Cobh, however, were not without their chances as Kevin Taylor burst down the right wing by Adebayo-Rowling, to tee up Beneoin O’Brien Whitmarsh. His touch took the ball goalwards but Mark McNulty gathered readily.
City, spurred on, regained procession and pushed forward with Griffin breaking through, but his shot was easily picked up by Hunt.
City finished off the half well, with a quick break from a set piece outwitting the Cobh Ramblers midfield, with the ball falling to Garry Buckley facing goal. He fired hard and straight into Hunt’s hands.
The visitors had chances to double their lead. McLoughlin blasted it from 20 yards out only for the left back’s shot to scrape the cross bar on the way over. Cobh closed off the half with winger David Hurley bursting on into space to fire well wide.
In what was a sleepy second half, both sides rotated with City introducing Karl Sheppard and Kane, while Cobh Ramblers emptied their substitute bench.
City picked up where they left off, with Conor McCarthy swinging a corner in with Ben O’Riordan taking no chances and clearing it for the Ramblers.
Cobh’s best chance of the half fell to Darren Murphy, who from 20 yards curled a free kick around the wall only for it to graze the cross bar.
Overall, the Rebel Army won the bragging rights as they beat county rivals Cobh Ramblers 1-0 in an entertaining affair. Next up for the Champions is another friendly against UCC on Wednesday night at the Mardyke, while the Ramblers travel to the capital to take on Shamrock Rovers.
Cobh Ramblers: Paul Hunt, Charlie Fleming, Ben O’Riordan, Christopher McCarthy, James McSweeney, Kevin Taylor, Darren Murphy, Stephen Christopher, David Hurley, Beneoin O’Brien Whitmarsh, Cian Leonard.
Booked: Kevin Taylor.
Cork City: Mark McNulty (Jacob Marsen 60); Aaron Barry, Jimmy Keohane, Conor McCormack, Tobi Adenayo Rowling (Danny Kane 45), Garib Gerkondani (Karl Sheppard 45), Shane Griffin, Conor McCarthy, Colm Horgan, Sean McLoughlin, Garry Buckley.
Subs not used: Steven Beattie, Kieran Sadlier.
Referee: Graham Taylor.
Extratime.ie Man of the Match: Jimmy Keohane.