Cork City maintained top spot in the SSE Airtricity League on Mondauy night after overcoming Shamrock Rovers thanks to a first half penalty by Kieran Sadlier in Turners Cross.
The opening half was a poor affair in comparison to the second period but Sadlier ensurined the sides were separated by the smallest of margins at the break.
The Leesdiers made two changes to the side that suffered defeat in Oriel Park last Friday night with Sean McLaughlin and Barry McNamee coming into the side in place of Garry Buckley and Steven Beattie.
Stephen Bradley made two changes to the side that defeated Derry City 6-1 last Friday in Tallaght. Joey O’Brien made his debut for the Hoops replacing Ethan Boyle, while Luke Byrne replaced Trevor Clarke who dropped to the bench.
The opening quarter of an hour saw both teams try to impose themselves but little came of their brief forays into the opposition half.
Daniel Carr who got on the score sheet in recent weeks had a chance on 17 minutes but Aaron Barry blocked it and the chance was cleared. Rovers dominated the possession but could create precious little in the way of chances to trouble Mark McNulty.
City were hitting the ball to Graham Cummins who was seeing little in the way of action, but was doing his best at keeping the Rovers defence on the toes with Kevin Horgan required to clear a dangerous ball to touch on 22 minutes.
The game was seeing little in the way of goal action. However Cummins was fouled on 37 minutes when upended by Horgan as the City player reacted quickest to a breaking ball. Sadlier stood up and fired the ball down the middle to give the home crowd of just under 5,000 something to celebrate.
The home side had another chance to score against the Hoops just before the break when Karl Sheppard saw his flick at the near post saved well by Horgan following a Barry McNamee cross.
More chances came the champions’ way early in the second half when McNamee missed a chance, having been set up by Sheppard.
Graham Burke, who scored four last time out, had a shot saved by McNulty and then set up Carr but the striker couldn’t reach it and the ball went wide. Hoops Captain Ronan Finn had a shot go over on 55 minutes as Rovers showed improvement in their quest to draw level.
Sadlier, who whipped in a number of good crosses during the game, found Cummins just before the hour mark as he shook off the challenge from Lee Grace but managed to hit the ball wide from a matter of yards with Horgan relieved to see it go the other side of the post.
On 63 minutes, Horgan’s kick out went short but was turned over by Gearóid Morrissey who played in Cummins. He set up McNamee but the former Derry player got under the ball and it went over.
There were chances at either end in the last quarter of an hour. Morrissey went close for the home side as did Burke for the Hoops. Carr who had precious few chances had one on 79 minutes but the ball got stuck in his feet and was blocked.
The Hoops had a great chance to equalise late on but Luke Byrne’s header seven minutes from time came back off the cross bar, with City scrambling the ball clear. The final minutes were helter skelter but despite both teams having chances there was to be no change to the score line as City secured all three points.
Cork City: Mark McNulty; Conor McCarthy, Aaron Barry, Sean McLoughlin, Shane Griffin; Conor McCormack, Gearóid Morrissey; Kieran Sadlier (Jimmy Keohane 84), Barry McNamee (Garry Buckley 77), Karl Sheppard; Graham Cummins.
Subs not used: Peter Cherrie, Tobi Adebayo, Michael Howard, Josh O’Hanlon, Colm Horgan.
Shamrock Rovers: Kevin Horgan; Joey O’Brien (Joel Coustrain 70), Lee Grace, Ally Gilchrist (Robert Lopes 46), Luke Byrne; Sam Bone; Brandon Miele (Trevor Clarke 67), Ronan Finn, Graham Burke, Sean Kavanagh; Dan Carr.
Subs not used: Tomer Chenchinski, David McAllister, Sean Boyd.
Booked: Joey O’Brien (10), Graham Burke (79)
Referee: Robert Harvey
Extratime.ie Man of the match: Kieran Sadlier