Homepage image courtesy of Eddie Lennon
The race for fifth might not seem like much of a big deal, but try telling that to Bohemians and Cork City as they fought ferociously to grab an upper hand in the race for a final Setanta Cup spot.
And even though both Shelbourne and Derry City will debate otherwise, heading into tonight’s action it was these two that had the stronger claims to land the final Setanta Cup spot. Bohs were brutal in the first half but were a changed side after the break, dominating the second period against a Cork team that also looked a shadow of their first half selves.
Cork’s form of late had been pretty decent, three wins in the last four league games giving them a healthy bump up the table. Indeed, having played 451 in their most recent away game against Derry, and coming away with an unfancied win, manager Tommy Dunne returned to that system with John Dunleavy returning for the Leesiders in midfield after a month out with an ankle injury.
Bohs, meanwhile, following their quarter-final defeat to Dundalk in the FAI Cup looked to respond with a positive result. They had of course entered that game against the Lilywhites full of confidence after defeating passionate rivals Shamrock Rovers days before. It led to three changes for Aaron Callaghan’s side, Michael Barker, Andy Mulligan and Ken Carr all coming into the team.
The game started in a lively manner, Daryl Horgan hitting the roof of the net with a corner after two minutes and Dunleavy striking well wide for Cork while the home team had a penalty shout turned down when Owen Heary’s header came off Danny Murphy’s arm though referee Rob Rogers rightly said it was accidental as the latter had no time to react.
Cork, however, broke the deadlock after 15 thanks to lone front-man Vinny Sullivan. Daryl Horgan’s pin-perfect cross from the right landed perfectly into the path of Sullivan and he volleyed home brilliantly from eight yards, leaving Bohs stopper Greg Murray with absolutely no chance.
Bohs responded well, Kevin Devaney going very close to an equaliser with a shot from range, yet Sullivan went terribly close to a second after 33 as Sullivan’s header following another cross from the right came crashing back off the post.
With only three minutes to go before the break the home team had a second penalty claim waved away after Dave Mulcahy’s shot was blocked down by Gary Buckley and it was touch and go whether it struck his hand or not. Rogers wasn’t stirred though and once again play continued.
Bohs brought Dave Scully on for Carr at the break, with Evan McMillan going from centre-half to centre-forward. And their intent was much clearer just two minutes after the restart when Keith Ward curled a free-kick into the side-netting.
Indeed Callaghan’s astute tactical change yielded an equaliser on 54 thanks to another wonderful effort from McMillan. Around 25 yards out from goal, he steadied before curling a magnificent attempt into the top right corner with the inside of his boot.
That gave Bohs the impetus to push on further and they went on to control the game, Cork forced to live off counter-attacks as keeper Mark McNulty was left to deal with wave after wave of long balls into the area. Kalen Spillane did send a free-kick wide for Cork before a brief moment of off-the-field entertainment as the Bohs fans erupted into song when City’s Stephen Kenny was introduced from the bench.
Horgan wasted a cute ball from Kenny three minutes after his introduction, choosing to lob Murray instead of shooting low and hard in a good position. Bohs continued to enjoy more possession but couldn’t carve out that clear-cut opportunity.
Cork had a pair of corners which came to nothing on the stroke of 90 but there was to be one more moment of drama as Keith Ward went down inside the area. Another penalty shout came calling from the stands but Rob Rogers decided it was a dive and sent the Bohs player off for a second bookable offence.
Bohemians: Greg Murray; Owen Heary, Evan McMillan, Kevin Feely, Roberto Lopes; Kevin Devaney (Keith Buckley 82), Michael Barker, Keith Ward, David Mulcahy, Andy Mulligan (Karl Moore 75); Ken Carr (David Scully 46).
Subs not used: Andy McNulty, Dwayne Wilson, Dinny Corcoran, Daniel Joyce.
Booked: Ward (21), Mulligan (65), Barker (89).
Sent Off: Ward (90+3).
Cork City: Mark McNulty; Gavin Kavanagh, Kevin Murray, Kalen Spillane, Danny Murphy; Davin O’Neill (Keigan Parker 62), Shane Duggan, John Dunleavy (Dan Murray 75), Gary Buckley (Stephen Kenny 69), Daryl Horgan; Vinny Sullivan.
Subs not used: Kevin Burns, Graham McCarthy, Neal Horgan, Danny Morrissey.
Booked: Sullivan (40), G Buckley (60).
Referee: Rob Rogers (Dublin).
ExtraTime.ie Man of the Match: Kevin Murray (Cork City).
Official attendance: 1,135.
Alan Smith works as a sub-editor for the Guardian newspaper in London. Originally from Cork, he freelances for several other newspapers and websites. Follow him on twitter @alansmith90.