Cork City got 2013 off to a scintillating start, as they pulled off an impressive 4-0 trouncing of Northern Irish League leaders Cliftonville on Monday night at Turner’s Cross in the first round of the Setanta Cup.
Ian Turner bagged an impressive brace for the hosts, while Gearoid Morrissey and new signing Daryl Kavanagh also got their names on the score sheet.
The high-scoring victory sets up the Rebel Army brilliantly for next week’s second leg against the Belfast outfit, as they travel north with a seemingly insurmountable four goal cushion.
City were comfortably the better side for the vast majority of the 90 minutes, and manager Tommy Dunne will undoubtedly be pleased that his side managed to retain the golden trinity of a steady defence, controlling midfield, and penetrating attack.
Cliftonville on the other hand will undoubtedly be disappointed with their first loss since New Year’s Day – although Reds manager Tommy Breslin did make nine changes from last weekend’s 2-0 victory over Donegal Celtic.
Cork City began as they meant to carry on, and nearly took the lead in the seventh minute - wide man Daryl Horgan drifted in off the left side and shot, but his effort took a slight deflection off a Cliftonville defender and ended up just wide of the target.
The home side took the lead nine minutes later thanks to a spectacular goal from Gearoid Morrissey. The Cork-born midfielder collected the ball in the opposition half, performed an audacious little flick to beat his man, before rifling it into the bottom corner of the net from 25 yards out.
City were much the better side for the opening stages - the midfield three of Colin Healy, Shane Duggan and especially the aforementioned Morrissey were dominating the game, while Daryl Horgan’s constant forays from the left flank offered an alternate outlet.
They were rewarded for their endeavour with a second goal on 26 minutes - Neal Horgan’s marauding run from right back was ended in the box by Cliftonville skipper Eamonn Seydak, resulting in a penalty kick for Ian Turner. Turner made no mistake and blasted the ball into the top left corner, giving the visiting goalkeeper absolutely no chance.
The game evened out as the evening wore on as Cliftonville looked for ways back into the tie. The Reds were keeping the ball well, but failing to find any real opening to create a gilt-edged chance – although the sheer physicality of front man Liam Boyce was causing a problem or two amongst the home rear-guard.
It was 3-0 and game over right on the stroke of half-time, thanks to a sumptuous free-kick from Ian Turner – the Cork winger managed to get the ball over the wall and under the crossbar, while still managing to maintain venomous power and pace on the ball, to send the Turner’s Cross faithful into raptures.
Ian Turner very nearly got his hat-trick after 56 minutes, when Danny Murphy played a neat one-two with Daryl Horgan, before whipping the ball into Turner – whose improvised side-footed volley sailed agonisingly wide.
The other goal scorer of the evening, Gearoid Morrissey also came close to improving his tally shortly past the hour mark, but his low driven effort glanced inches past the far post, after the City midfield player had stepped inside onto his left foot.
In truth, the second half was very much a non-event, as the reality of the victory seeped onto the terraces as well as the field – Cork knew they had the win in the bag, while Cliftonville knew they had been well and truly beaten.
The 1,273 patrons were awoken however with 69 minutes on the clock, as the hosts scored a great goal to really put the gloss on an already impressive victory – Dan Murray launched a sensational long pass forward, which Daryl Horgan latched onto and then crossed to namesake Kavanagh. His header sailed past the ‘keeper and into the back of the net to crown a wonderful evening for the Leeside club and send their fans home with a smile on their faces.
Cork City: Mark McNulty; Neal Horgan, Dan Murray, Kevin Murray (C), Danny Murphy; Ian Turner, Gearoid Morrissey, Colin Healy (Danny Morrissey, 74), Shane Duggan (Adam Rundle, 87), Daryl Horgan; Daryl Kavanagh (Danny Furlong, 74).
Subs not used: Kevin Burns, Darren Dennehy, Kalen Spillane, Stephen Kenny
Booked: Colin Healy (55)
Cliftonville: Ryan Brown; Tomas Cosgrove, Ciaran Caldwell, Dermot McVeigh (Gerard Reynolds, 74), Eamonn Seydak (C); Jody Lynch, Emmet Templeton (Jonathan McMurray, 56), Anthony McGonnell, James Knowles, Martin Donnelly; Liam Boyce (Gary Warwick, 72).
Subs not used: Brett Lee, Tiernan McNicholl, Conal McGrandles.
Booked: Emmet Templeton (45), James Knowles (83).
Referee: Padraigh Sutton.
ExtraTime.ie Man of the Match: Ian Turner (Cork City).