Derry City made it nine points from 12 at the Brandywell on Friday night as second-half goals from Mark Farren and Stephen McLaughlin saw Declan Devine’s men past a Cork City side that are still looking for their first win of the season.
Despite going in level at the break, the Candystripes dominated this tie and were full value for their win. McLaughlin put in an outstanding shift on the left wing and capped off his performance with Derry’s second goal on a cold but good night for football, a move which the Rebel Army’s keeper, Mark McNulty, will try to forget about quickly.
Cork made the long trip north buoyed by their performance against Shamrock Rovers last week, when a 94th minute Gary Twigg header robbed them of their first win of the season. However, they have just one point from four games now and still look to be struggling up front.
While the away side defended admirably when under fierce pressure in the first half, the manner in which they conceded both goals will have left Tommy Dunne very disappointed.
The opener arrived through Farren in the 48th minute when Barry Molloy’s pass cut the Cork defence in half and the Derry stalwart finished coolly past McNulty, while the Cork keeper certainly won’t want to see the replay of the second goal as he misjudged the flight of the ball and allowed McLaughlin in and the Derry star-side footed into the empty net under no pressure whatsoever.
Dunne made a drastic triple change on the hour mark, Colin Healy, Tadhg Purcell and Irish U19 striker Danny Morrissey replacing the ineffective Shane O’Connor and attacking duo Davin O’Neill and Vinny Sullivan.
Those changes bore little fruition however, the closest City came to grabbing a goal back was a speculative Gearóid Morrissey punt from 25 yards on 74 minutes, while Derry could have easily extended their advantage in a tame end to the game when Stewart Greacan headed just wide.
For Derry boss Devine, many positives can be taken from this showing. Not only did the result exorcise some of their demons after last week’s loss away to Shelbourne, but it also showed that they are more than capable of dominating games from start to finish.
The first action of note came in the 12th minute when McLaughlin flew past Cork right back Ian Turner but his shot was sliced high and wide. McLaughlin caused havoc all night long down the left flank and he looked to have headed the home side into the lead in the 18th minute after arriving in the area to power home a Simon Madden cross. Referee Rob Rogers, however, awarded Cork a free out for a push by McLaughlin, much to the disgust of the home support.
A rare Cork chance was wasted two minutes later when Danny Murphy galloped forward only for his left footed shot to fly well wide and with their backs against the wall, Gavin Kavanagh was forced to make a magnificent last ditch tackle to halt Farren with the striker bearing down on goal.
McLaughlin continued to give Turner a torrid time and the Leesiders’ right back picked up a yellow card for hauling down the tricky winger on the edge of the area nearing the half hour mark. Yet Turner made a heroic intervention a minute later when Farren rounded goalkeeper Mark McNulty only to see his lofted shot headed off the line by the defender.
In truth, it was all Derry and McNulty had to have strong wrists to push away a stinging McLaughlin drive in the 34th minute. Cork, though, almost went into an unlikely lead on 35. John Dunleavy linked up excellently with Davin O’Neill and the former’s cross was perfectly placed to the feet of Daryl Horgan, only for his drive to strike off the crossbar
Greacan was booked for a needless drag on Vinny Sullivan near halfway soon after that only for Murphy to waste the free-kick by playing it straight into the hands of Gerard Doherty, though Horgan went close again with a strike that was cleared off the line nearing the break.
Though the second period didn’t have as many clear-cut opportunities, the ones that did arrive for the home side were put away clinically and they’ll go into next week’s trip to Drogheda United with bucket loads of confidence.
Derry City: Gerard Doherty; Simon Madden, Stewart Greacan, Ryan McBride, Dermot McCaffrey; Patrick McEleney (Matthew Crossan 77), Barry Molloy, Ruaidhri Higgins, Stephen McLaughlin (Brian McGroary 88); Mark Farren, Owen Morrison (David McDaid 57).
Subs not used: Eugene Ferry, Eddie McCallion, Shane McEleney, Barry McNamee.
Booked: Greacen (34), Higgins (78), Madden (87), Crossan (90+2).
Cork City: Mark McNulty; Ian Turner, Dan Murray, Gavin Kavanagh, Danny Murphy; Daryl Horgan, John Dunleavy, Gearóid Morrissey, Shane O’Connor (Colin Healy 62); Davin O’Neill (Tadhg Purcell 62), Vinny Sullivan (Danny Morrissey 62).
Subs not used: Kevin Burns, Kalen Spillane, Cathal Lordan, Jamie Murphy.
Booked: Turner (29).
Referee: Rob Rogers (Dublin).
Attendance: 3,000 (estimate).
ExtraTime.ie Man of the Match: Stephen McLaughlin (Derry City).