Stephen Walsh reports from Turner's Cross
Cork City go into the mid season break a point clear of Dundalk at the top of the table thanks to an 89th minute goal from Gearóid Morrissey.
City were made to work for the three points against a dogged Bohemians side in Turners Cross tonight but the champions' quality told in the end.
The first half was an entertaining affair with both sides having chances but nothing could break the deadlock.
It was looking to be a night where Dundalk would claw back points and over take City at the summit, yet Morrissey stepped up late to ensure that it would be advantage City at the halfway point.
John Caulfield made three changes to the side that defeated Sligo Rovers 2-0 away last Saturday with Conor McCarthy, Shane Griffin and Barry McNamee starting in place of Alan Bennett, Danny Kane and Conor McCormack.
Bohemians also made three changes to the team that lost 2-1 at home to Derry City with Dan Casey, Keith Buckley and Kevin Devaney introduced into the starting 11, and Paddy Kavanagh, Keith Ward and Eoghan Stokes dropping to the bench.
City pressed early on with Kieran Sadlier the centre of all the attacking play as City won two corners in the opening 10 minutes but struggled to trouble Shane Supple.
Sadlier would be a focal point of City’s attacks over the night.
The home side were more dangerous with possession but Dylan Watts was looking lively in the middle, linking up with Kevin Devaney on the left for the visiting side.
Bohemians won a number of corners and were unlucky not to go ahead on 19 minutes when Ian Morris headed Devaney’s delivery goalward only for McNamee to clear off the line.
Both teams were playing the ball around and the smaller than normal crowd of 3,604, owing to the Spain and Portugal game, were getting their value worth with a number of tough tackles.
City had their turn to test the opposition from a corner when Barry McNamee’s ball to the front post was headed by Derek Pender off the back post and fell to Sean McLoughlin, but his rebound was blocked.
Steven Beattie was introduced on 20 minutes as a substitute for Karl Sheppard, who went off with what appeared to be a shoulder injury, and was a livewire on the wing. He nearly got on the end of a Sadlier cross that was cleared by Dan Casey.
Supple, who was called up to the Republic of Ireland team late last month on the back of some strong performances, showed his worth on 37 minutes when getting down quickly to push away a Graham Cummins effort that looked certain to be going into the bottom corner.
Bohemians had two chances before the break. First, Oscar Brennan saw his shot from outside the box saved by Mark McNulty and then Keith Buckley headed Paddy Kirk's cross narrowly wide.
City started the second half very strongly and had a penalty turned down by referee Neil Doyle inside two minutes when Cummins was clearly dragged to the ground by Casey when competing for a Griffin cross.
Sadlier fired over the bar from close range after Beattie crossed into the six yard box.
The game was a tight affair with both teams moving the ball quickly. Bohemians had a goal ruled out for offside on 55 minutes with the home crowd trying their best to rally the home side.
Cummins was having a tough battle up front with Casey and Rob Cornwall not giving him an inch. Yet despite this, he created a chance and then brought a save out of Supple.
A poor clearance from Supple found Cummins, who played the ball to McNamee but the former Derry player was unable to get a shot away. A minute later, he beat the offside trap and fired low at Supple’s feet, forcing a corner.
Morris and Brennan were doing a good job of stemming the City attacks going forward as both had a few attempts to set up a counter attack. Watts had the ball in and around the box on occasions but didn’t trouble McNulty.
City were guilty at times of overplaying the ball and at other times being too slow in possession, with the net result often being that the final ball into the box was missing accuracy and City didn’t trouble Supple as much as they would have liked.
As the game pushed on, Bohemians were getting more space in the centre of the field and played a number of dangerous balls forward but McLoughlin and McCarthy were able to clear the danger.
Six minutes from time, Supple pushed away a back pass from Buckley as City looked for a winner and arrive it did one minute from the end of normal time.
Griffin’s free kick to the back post was headed down by Cummins and fell to Morrissey, who smashed the ball into the top corner from 10 yards.
The drama wasn’t finished there with substitute Dan Byrne seeing a goalbound header late in injury time excellently saved by McNulty and cheers rang out around the ground with the final whistle.
Cork City: Mark McNulty; Colm Horgan (Gearóid Morrissey 62), Conor McCarthy, Sean McLoughlin, Shane Griffin; Garry Buckley, Jimmy Keohane; Karl Sheppard (Steven Beattie 20, inj.), Barry McNamee (Josh O’Hanlon 78), Kieran Sadlier; Graham Cummins.
Subs not used: Peter Cherrie (gk), Danny Kane, Aaron Barry, Conor McCormack.
Bohemians: Shane Supple; Derek Pender (Danny Grant 73), Dan Casey (Dan Byrne 88), Rob Cornwall, Paddy Kirk; Ian Morris, Oscar Brennan; Keith Buckley, Kevin Devaney, Dylan Watts (Eoghan Stokes 89), Kevin Devanney, Dinny Corcoran
Subs not used: Sean Bohan, Keith Ward, Paddy Kavanagh, JJ Lunney.
Yellow Cards: Keith Buckley (29).
Referee: Neil Doyle.
Attendance: 3,604 (official).
Extratime.ie Player of the Match: Steven Beattie (Cork City).