A history of conceding late goals to throw away leads again came back to plague Shelbourne on Saturday night, with a 94th minute Graham Cummins goal clinching the title for Cork City.
City raced into an early lead with a Daryl Horgan goal before David Cassidy levelled mid-way through the half. Graham Cummins then dramatically won the match late on.
Just as Shels did last Tuesday evening, City got their match off to a roaring start with an early goal. Perhaps fittingly, it was a player on loan from Shelbourne's FAI Cup final opponents who scored. A Neal Horgan cross in from the right wasn't cleared and fell for Daryl Horgan to sweetly strike into the bottom right corner.
After a brisk start, the match continued at a hundred mile-an-hour pace for the rest of the half. Kevin Dawson saw his shot pushed wide by Mark McNulty on 15 minutes and five minutes later John Sullivan volleyed just over for Shels. Gearoid Morrissey looked like he could threaten Shels whenever he got the ball, shooting just wide 30-yards out from a free-kick after 17 minutes.
But it was Shels who exploited the game's breakneck tempo to score next on 28 minutes. After a botched headed clearance by Gavin Kavanagh, Philly Hughes showed tremendous vision to play a defence-splitting pass for David Cassidy. The mercurial Cassidy slotted the ball past Mark McNulty, who had come out of his goal, for his 18th goal of the season.
The Shels playmaker's Cork counterpart, Daryl Horgan, tested Dean Delany in the Shels goal almost immediately after the goal. Horgan's run from midfield created space just outside the Shels box, allowing Horgan to shoot. His shot arced toward the top corner but was tipped wide by Delany.
John Sullivan had another shot pushed over the bar just after the half hour mark as the match still went on at its at-times-frantic pace. Phillip Hughes was through on goal after 35 minutes after a tremendous overhead through ball from David Cassidy but Mark McNulty saved well one-on-one with the Shels striker.
The game's pace did die down in the second half, but this was probably still one of the most entertaining matches in either division this season. Graham Cummins had a golden opportunity to put City ahead ten minutes after the break, but blasted his shot well over under pressure from Andy Boyle.
Although a draw was enough to see them both promoted, neither side ever really looked happy with sharing the spoils in Tolka Park. City switched to a more attacking formation with the introduction of Derek O'Brien for Gavin Kavanagh on 70 minutes. The Rebels did look dangerous on the counter, but their final ball was lacking most of the time.
Daryl Horgan failed to build on his earlier goal when, with eight minutes left on the clock, he shot disappointingly over inside the Shels box following a fine cross by substitute Derek O'Brien. Shels were forced to pull most of their players back into defence in the closing minutes, with Cork conversely pushing several players up into attack.
But the Reds were able to mount counter-attacks, keeping the ball up in the Cork half for most of the final five minutes. But Cork, who had always looked more threatening on the attack, took their toll at last in dramatic fashion. In the fourth minute of added time at the end of the match, Graham Cummins scored a last-gasp winner to give City the First Division title. Derek O'Brien crossed from near the right corner flag, allowing Cummins to head the ball in from close range.
Shelbourne: Dean Delaney; Gareth Matthews, Andy Boyle, Ian Ryan, Sean Byrne; Brendan. McGill [Chris Mulhall '93], Kevin Dawson, John Sullivan, Barry Clancy [Conan Byrne '79]; David Cassidy; Philly Hughes [Phillip Gorman '76].
Subs not used: Paul Skinner, Stephen Paisley, Karl Bermingham, Davi Da Silva.
Yellow Cards: None.
Cork City: Mark McNulty; Neal Horgan, Kalen Spillane, Gavin Kavanagh [Derek O'Brien '70], Danny Murphy, Davin O’Neill [Vinny Sullivan HT], Gearoid Morrissey, Greg O’Halloran, Shane Duggan, Daryl Horgan [Ian Turner '90], Graham Cummins.
Subs not used: Jamie Murphy, James McCarthy, Cathal Lordan, Vincent Escude-Candau.
Yellow Cards: Greg O'Halloran, Graham Cummins.
Referee: Paul McLaughlin.
Extratime.ie Man of the Match: Mark McNulty.