Shamrock Rovers defeated Cork City for the second time in a week last evening at Turner’s Cross as Stephen Kenny’s side kept in touch with leaders Sligo Rovers in the Airtricity League Premier Division.
Gary Twigg, reported as having an infection in his hip, did not feature for Rovers but Gary McCabe’s expertly-taken free-kick 16 minutes into the second half decided an entertaining affair as Rovers came from behind to claim a vitally important three points.
Cork City made four changes to the team that started last week in Tallaght Stadium with goalkeeper Kevin Burns, Ian Turner, Dan Murray and Stephen Kenny coming into the side while Pat Sullivan, Billy Dennehy and FAI Ford Cup match-winner Thomas Stewart were included in the champions’ starting line-up.
And it was Stewart’s first minute header, despite rising over Burns’ crossbar, from the excellent Conor Powell’s cross that was indicative of Rovers’ attacking intentions.
However, Ian Turner’s side-volley that nestled in the corner of Oscar Jansson’s net two minutes later was a blow to Kenny’s men.
Turner started the move passing to Keigan Parker who back-heeled to Turner. The winger returned possession to Parker again and his cross to the back post allowed Daryl Horgan to intelligently cushion a header to the edge of the six-yard box which afforded Turner, who had continued his run into the area the opportunity to swivel and power beyond Jansson.
Yet conceding galvanised Rovers and the visitors created a succession of first-half opportunities but which yielded little dividends – Billy Dennehy’s 25th minute free-kick from 22 yards that forced Burns to parry away to his right as close as they got in spite of their dominance.
Elusive winger Daryl Horgan then found Turner on the right for City. He laid off to Kenny whose left-footed cross was met by Horgan’s glancing header that finished narrowly outside the far post much to Jansson’s relief.
Then, with 40 minutes on the clock, Parker missed a guilt-edged opportunity to increase City’s lead, arguably one of the misses of the season.
Getting on the end of Neal Horgan’s long delivery which caught out the high line employed by the Rovers’ defence in that moment the striker volleyed sweetly and though Jansson was left on the ground having saved his initial effort Parker somehow turned the rebound over the crossbar with the goal at his mercy.
Inevitably Rovers levelled two minutes later through the impressive Ronan Finn.
Gary McCabe picked out Colin Hawkins just inside the City area. Aware of Finn’s advantageous position, Hawkins teed up the midfielder to rifle into the bottom corner giving Burns no chance.
Finn drew a fine save from Burns on 53 minutes but Rovers went in front eight minutes later and crucially stayed in front. Punishing a foul outside the area by Neal Horgan, Gary McCabe curled the resultant free-kick into the corner despite Burns’ getting a hand to the ball and the hosts were left chasing the game.
City tried to force an equaliser but the Rovers’ defence held firm.
Cork City: Kevin Burns; Neal Horgan, Dan Murray, Kevin Murray, Gavin Kavanagh; Ian Turner (Brian Lenihan 72), Gearoid Morrissey, Shane Duggan, Daryl Horgan; Keigan Parker (Davin O’Neill 65), Stephen Kenny (Keith Quinn 72).
Subs not used: Paul White, Kalen Spillane, Andy O’Connell, Danny Morrissey.
Shamrock Rovers: Oscar Jansson; Pat Sullivan, Craig Sives, Colin Hawkins, Conor Powell; Gary McCabe (Conor McCormack 77), Stephen Rice, Ronan Finn, Billy Dennehy; Ciarán Kilduff (Gary O’Neill 82), Thomas Stewart.
Subs not used: Reyaad Pieterse, Kerrea Gilbert, Ken Oman, Daryl Kavanagh, Killian Brennan.
Bookings: Sullivan (87).
Referee: Paul Tuite (Dublin).