Cork City defeated St. Patrick’s Athletic tonight in the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division clash played in Turners Cross in front of 1,880 spectators.
Two goals in an eight minute spell at the beginning of the second half ensured the home side would claim all three points in what was a decent game of football over the 90 minutes.
The opening 45 minutes was a tight affair with Conan Byrne giving the visitors the lead after 23 minutes with a superb free kick. Yet a defensive calamity allowed Mark O’Sullivan the opportunity to score into an empty net on 28 minutes.
The introduction of Sean Maguire made the difference for City in the second half as he scored and then helped create a Steven Beattie goal to ease City to victory.
City made five changes to the side that lost to the same opposition in Richmond Park on Monday night 3-1. Out went Gary Buckley, Kenny Browne, Gavan Holohan, Sean Maguire and Stephen Dooley. In their place were Danny Morrissey, Dave Mulcahy, Michael McSweeney, Mark O’Sullivan and Gearóid Morrissey.
St. Pat’s on the other hand only made two changes, with Rory Feely and Sam Verdon starting ahead of Darren Dennehy and Michael Barker.
Pat’s knew that were they to get any points from this game against Cork City, their third in 20 days, then Dundalk would be crowned League Champions before they play Bohemians in Oriel Park on Sunday’s televised match on RTÉ.
Pat’s appeared to leave off where they left last Monday having the first chances on goal by way of Sam Verdon and Christy Fagan.
Yet Cork City were not going to leave the league go that easily and had chances of their own to take the lead. On 11 minutes Kevin O’Connor’s corner to O’Sullivan at the back post was headed off the bar before his rebound was clawed away by Brendan Clarke to safety.
Five minutes later Clarke was beaten following another City corner, but Karl Sheppard’s goal was ruled out for a push on a Pat’s defender.
Yet the deadlock was broken on 23 minutes when Greg Bolger fouled Graham Kelly on the edge of the box. Up stepped Byrne who fired it high into the right-hand corner to silence the Shed end.
But City sprang into life and McSweeney had a chance of an equaliser following a good dribble from Sheppard into the Pat’s area, but the defender back heeled it narrowly wide.
From the resultant kick out on 28 minutes, Ian Bermingham and Clarke made a mess of a short back pass allowing O’Sullivan to nip in and tap it into an empty goal to even proceedings.
O’Sullivan and Byrne had further chances, but there was to be no change as both teams went to the tunnel for the half time break.
Yet as has happened on 17 times this season, Maguire got himself on the score sheet within four minutes of his introduction at the half time in place of Danny Morrissey. The Kilkenny native rose highest in the six-yard box to head home Beattie’s corner and put City ahead.
Pat’s had barely time to take stock of the situation when they found themselves further behind on 53 minutes. A lovely move started by the man of the moment Maguire played in O’Sullivan who fired it across the six-yard box for the incoming Beattie to bury the ball home from close range much to the delight of those in the Shed end.
Bermingham tried to atone for his earlier mistake on 66 minutes when Byrne played a superb ball over the top for the left back, but Mark McNulty got down low to block with his feet.
Beattie had two more efforts, but neither troubled Clarke as the game remained 3-1 with 15 minutes left to play in the second last home game of the season in Turners Cross.
O’Sullivan, who was relishing game time something that has been somewhat limited in recent months, nearly scored a superb individual goal on 78 minutes as he managed to shake off a number of tackles before firing narrowly wide from ten yards.
Cork City: Mark McNulty; Michael McSweeney, Alan Bennett, Dave Mulcahy, Kevin O’Connor; Greg Bolger, Gearóid Morrissey (Colin Healy 55); Stephen Beattie, Danny Morrissey (Sean Maguire 46), Karl Sheppard (Ian Turner 70); Mark O’Sullivan.
Subs not used: John Kavanagh, Gavan Holohan, Stephen Dooley, Eric Grimes.
Yellow Cards: None.
Red Cards: None.
St. Patrick’s Athletic: Brendan Clarke, Ger O’Brien, Sean Hoare, Rory Feely, Ian Bermingham; Lee Desmond (Jonathan Lunney 21), Sam Verdon; Jamie McGrath (Stephen Kinsella 77), Graham Kelly, Conan Byrne; Christy Fagan.
Subs not used: Dinny Corcoran, Billy Dennehy, Ciaran Kelly, Pat Jennings, Darragh Markey.
Yellow Cards: None.
Red Cards: None.
Referee: Paul Tuite.
Extratime.ie Man of the Match: Sean Maguire (Cork City).