A Steven Beattie hat-trick was the main component of this most convincing of wins for Cork City at Turner’s Cross on Monday night. Danny Morrissey also weighed in with a brace as John Caulfield’s men put six past Longford Town for no reply.
There was rather a gentle atmosphere at Turner’s Cross for this first installment of midweek league action and the sense of well-being among the home crowd was enhanced after just three minutes when Cork City took an early lead against their visitors from the Midlands.
Colin Healy delivered a corner deep into Longford’s goalmouth and ‘keeper Paul Skinner punched clear, or so he thought. On the end of it, some twenty odd yards from goal was Steven Beattie. In acres of space the midfielder cracked a volley through the ruck of players still attending to their corner-kick duties and into the Longford goal.
It was a splendid opener and if City weren’t in a relaxed mood before that, they most certainly were afterwards. The home side dominated almost nonchalantly and with Kevin O’Connor eager to run the line from his left back position, and Danny Morrissey being urged by his manager, John Caulfield, to take on the opposite full back, Daniel O’Reilly, another goal seemed inevitable.
City’s second duly arrived after ten minutes of play; Kenny Browne finding O’Connor’s run down the left with a beautifully weighted ball over the top. O’Connor took on and beat his man, needing only to slide the ball across the six-yard-box to offer Sean Maguire an open goal. The ex-Dundalk striker took it gratefully for his third strike of this barely-begun league season.
It was all too easy for the Leesiders, a fact confirmed by Tony Cousins’ increasingly frustrated exhortations from the away bench and more chances followed. The Morrissey’s combined on 15 minutes, Gearoid sending Danny through only for a desperate covering block to snuff out the opening. And on the half hour Eoghan O’Connell played Maguire in with a fine pass which the striker, hitting it on the slide, scooped wide.
It was all City and Karl Sheppard could afford to forgive himself for getting an improvised cross from Beattie all wrong on 36 minutes, shanking his shot high and wide when well placed. He came closer still six minutes from the break when Gearoid Morrissey’s effort was patted into his path by Skinner, but the ball arrived at his feet too quickly and his reflex shot sailed but a few inches outside the post.
Within spitting distance of the half time whistle City added a third. Beattie nodded the ball through a gap in the cover and followed it in on goal, rolling his shot wide of Skinner but against the right hand post. The ball rebounded to Danny Morrissey who fired it ruthlessly into the roof of the net.
A spectacular comeback by Longford seemed unlikely given the scale of City’s dominance in the opening half and within two minutes of the restart Danny Morrissey clattered the ball off the visitors’ crossbar after good approach play from Maguire and Beattie. But a fourth for the hosts did not take long to arrive.
Seven minutes into the half Sheppard looped a superb cross in to Danny Morrissey who had stepped beyond the last defender and had the presence of mind to chest the ball down for Beattie who calmly tucked it inside Skinner’s right-hand post for his second of the night.
Cork were playing some lovely football and a beautifully judged pass from Gearoid Morrissey released Sheppard on 57 minutes. His attempted cross was blocked out for a corner which arrived at the feet of Maguire tight to the end line. Somehow, the striker checked back inside his man and sent the ball skidding across the goal mouth and out the other side.
Both sides made changes, though one would imagine for significantly different reasons. John McKeown replaced Kealan Dillon in Longford’s engine room while Caulfield took off Eoghan O’Connell and Gearoid Morrissey, replacing them with Michael McSweeney and Mark O’Sullivan. Maguire dropped into a deeper role in the hole behind the new target man O’Sullivan and shortly afterwards Longford got their first sniff of goal.
David O’Sullivan found himself with only Mark McNulty to beat on 66 minutes but a combination of Dunleavy’s flying block and the assistant’s flag denied him. One minute later Cork had their fifth.
Sheppard created the opportunity with an outrageous shot on the turn from way out on the right flank. The ball sailed over Skinner and crashed back off the bar, falling for Beattie who took a touch and composed himself before angling his shot into the corner of the Longford net for his hat-trick.
No sooner had the precocious talent of Chiedozie Ogbene taken to the field than City had a sixth. The young sub had little enough to do with it although he did start the move with a simple sideways ball inside the centre circle which was then ushered out to Dunleavy on the right. His ball inside was flicked up by Danny Morrissey who followed the track of the ball over his own head and, when it landed on the goal-side of his marker, he poked it high into the net on the half-volley.
At this point one might have expected City to take their foot off the gas but - and this may sound cruel given the scoreline - the truth is they were never fully on it. This was an exercise in surgical dismemberment rather than thundering bravado and if City’s title aspirations looked a tad previous after defeat at the Brandywell on Friday they looked entirely credible this evening.
Cork City: Mark McNulty; John Dunleavy, Eoghan O’Connell (Michael McSweeney 61), Kenny Browne, Kevin O’Connor; Danny Morrissey, Gearoid Morrissey (Mark O’Sullivan 61), Colin Healy, Steven Beattie, Karl Sheppard; Sean Maguire (Chiedozie Ogbene 75).
Subs not used: Alan Smith (gk), Alan Bennett, Ian Turner, Stephen Dooley.
Longford Town: Paul Skinner; Mark Hughes, Pat Flynn (Keith Beirne 82), Mark Rossiter, Daniel O’Reilly; David O’Sullivan, Jamie Mulhall, Philip Gannon, Kealan Dillon (John McKeown 60), Kaleem Simon (Karl Chambers 72); Josh O’Hanlon.
Subs not used: Ian Molloy (gk), Tristan Noack-Hofmann, Kevin O’Connor, Cian Fay.
Booked: Rossiter (77).
Referee: Sean Grant
Extratime Man of the Match: Steven Beattie (Cork City)