Date: 7:45 p.m. Aug. 5, 2011
Venue: Turners Cross
The billing of this game as the biggest of the season in the first division so far was definitely worthy as both sides played some wonderful attacking football. You couldn’t help but get all nostalgic and say it was just like some of the epic battles between the sides at the beginning of the last decade.
Those days might be gone, but the rivalry lives on. Shelbourne visits to Leeside are always special regardless of the competition or standard.
Shels started with just Philly Hughes up front on his own, though Dave Cassidy played in an advanced role in the centre of midfield, joining the first division’s top scorer when attacking. And that combination worked to perfect effect just four minutes in as the champions-elect took the lead with a well-worked move.
Colm James found Hughes, who played an intelligent pass to Cassidy 20 yards from goal and the stand-in skipper struck a low drive into the bottom left corner to put Alan Mathews’ side into the ascendancy.
City were slower to settle, their best chance of the opening quarter didn’t arrive until shortly after the 20 minute mark when Daryl Horgan hit the side netting after Dean Delany parried Graham Cummins’ effort into the winger’s path.
Moments later City had justifiable claims for a penalty turned away when Cummins was dragged down by Ian Ryan. Referee Padraig Sutton was defiant though, waving away the claims despite loud protests from the vocal City support.
Shels looked very dangerous going forward and Hughes was unlucky when his curling effort was inches wide of Mark McNulty’s right post. They should probably have made it 2-0 on 25 minutes when neat footwork from Kevin Dawson enabled him to get a shot away, but his skewed effort missed the target with the City keeper stumbling.
Sutton made some very poor decisions, particularly leaving the home team incensed. However, in a strange turn of fate one of those decisions led to the equaliser in the 31st minute.
He failed to play advantage after Cummins was taken down, much to the derision of City gaffer Tommy Dunne. From the resultant free though, Danny Murphy played to Davin O’Neill and his cross from the left was met by the glancing head of Cummins, who nodded into the right corner.
Delany did get a touch but he couldn’t keep last season’s top scorer from drawing level with Shels compatriot Hughes at the top of the league scorers chart with his 12th of the season.
City finished the half like a team possessed. Attack was all they seemed to know, and with Daryl Horgan running rings around any man in red that came within five yards of him, the home team took the lead on the verge of half-time.
It came from a corner, but the effort that led to that set-piece is deserved of a mention. Horgan waltzed through the middle before playing a magnificent defence splitting pass to Cummins. His rasper struck the crown of Gareth Mathews, deflecting out for a corner.
Gearóid Morrissey’s in-swinger was then met by the free head of O’Neill, meaning City became the first team since Monaghan way back in April to score two past them in a league game.
City refused to rest on their laurels in the second-half and continued to pile forward with another crisp Morrissey corner reaching O’Neill, whose header crashed off the bar.
Shels tried hard, Conan Byrne forcing McNulty to save from a tight angle on the hour mark, but City continued to play the better football. Delany pulled off three solid stops in as many minutes from Cummins to keep the pacesetters in with a slight chance.
The pick of those opportunities came after sterling work by Davin O’Neill, who fed to his overlapping strike partner but Delany got down well to palm away.
Alan Mathews was forced to show is hand, introducing Chris Mulhall and Stephen Paisley to muster up some sort of fightback, but the home side continued to dominate and they made sure of the points twelve minutes from time when the front two combined once more.
Cummins flew down the left after Greg O’Halloran played to him and his cross was met by the unmarked O’Neill on the edge of the area and he tapped in to the delight of the Leeside support from six yards to guarantee a vital three points.
The closing stages became a statement of City’s ability to run Shels close for top spot. Gavin Kavanagh hooked the ball goalwards and Daryl Horgan emerged from a cluster of players to bludgeon home – a deserved goal for the best player on the park over the 90 minutes.
Cork City: Mark McNulty; Stephen Mulcahy (Ian Turner, 12), Gavin Kavanagh, Kalen Spillane, Danny Murphy; Gearóid Morrissey (Vinny Sullivan, 85), Shane Duggan, Greg O’Halloran, Daryl Horgan; Davin O’Neill, Graham Cummins.
Subs not used: Craig Burns, Danny Morrissey, James McCarthy, Eoin McGreevy.
Shelbourne: Dean Delany; Gareth Mathews, Ian Ryan (Stephen Paisley, 70), Andy Boyle, Lorcan Fitzgerald; Kevin Dawson (Karl Bermingham, 78), Colm James, Dave Cassidy, Brendan McGill (Chris Mulhall, 63); Philip Hughes, Conan Byrne.
Subs not used: Barry Clancy, Sean Byrne, John Sullivan, Paul Skinner.
Booked: Dawson, Ryan, Cassidy.
Referee: Padraig Sutton (Clare).
Official attendance: 3205.
ExtraTime.ie Man of the Match: Daryl Horgan – to be brutally honest, he’s way above this level.