Odhrán Crumley reports from the Brandywell Stadium
It was honours even at the Brandywell as Derry City and Cork City played out as entertaining a scoreless draw as you're ever likely to see.
Three minutes of additional time held real drama as Aaron McEneff struck the post for Derry while Gerard Doherty did well to deny Steven Beattie and Josh O’Hanlon at the other end.
In the end a draw was probably a fair reflection on how the game had played out with both teams having many chances during an end-to-end contest.
Kenny Shiels’ men made the brighter start to the game as they immediately went on the attack from kick off.
Jack Doyle swung a cross in from the left towards the head of Ronan Curtis but the striker could only head over the top at the back post.
The end-to-end nature that would become typical of the game began in the fifth minute Jimmy Keohane driving forward before shooting over from 25 yards.
Derry broke at the other end with Rory Patterson dragging a shot from the edge of the box to the left and wide.
Doyle was keen to get forward in the early exchanges and this continued throughout the half.
The on-loan Blackburn Rovers defender cut in from the left shooting low with his right foot, and the ball looked destined for the top right corner of the net only to fly just past the post.
Cork grew into the game as the half wore on. A free quick straight from the training ground saw Keohane find Colm Horgan on the wing but his cross was headed over by Alan Bennett.
Former Candystripe playmaker Barry McNamee made his first trip back to the Brandywell and was keen to impress.
McNamee drove his team forward with some fine footwork before finding the feet of Karl Sheppard on the edge of the area.
With his back to goal, Sheppard tried to play in Graham Cummins but the pass was just a little too far in front of the striker.
Darren Cole intercepted gliding out of defence before setting Rory Patterson in on the counter.
Patterson cut back into the area and was just about to pull the trigger only a sublime sliding challenge from Bennett.
The teams remained deadlocked at the break with neither side able to make the breakthrough.
Both sides had early corners in the second half as they continued to attack but to no avail.
On the hour mark, McEneff clipped a free from around thirty yards towards the back post.
The ball was headed away to the path of Conor McDermott, whose shot from range forcing McNulty into a diving save.
Derry continued to press as Ronan Curtis caught Sheppard in possession out the left before playing wide to Nicky Low.
Low cut the ball back to Rory Hale on edge of the area and his shot appeared to wrong foot McNulty, heading for the bottom left corner, only to go wide with the home crowd on their feet.
Into the final ten minutes substitute Steven Beattie sent a great driven cross into the area but fellow substitute Josh O’Hanlon just couldn’t reach it.
Everyone in the stadium assumed the ball had run out of play except for Kieran Sadlier, who kept the ball in before striking low and hard only for Gerard Doherty to save.
Three minutes of additional time were added on but neither side was content to sit back and defend.
McEneff whipped in a cross from the left wing that evaded everyone, crashing back off the post. The crowd waited for the net to bulge but the ball fortuitously fell into the arms of McNulty.
Cork went on the attack and Beattie whipped in another inviting cross, which found O’Hanlon, and his shot was saved by the feet of Doherty in the Derry goal.
The resulting corner was headed over the bar by Séan McLoughlin, and Gerard Doherty's kick-out was met by the sound of the referee’s whistle, bringing an entertaining game to a close.
Derry City: Gerard Doherty; Conor McDermott, Eoin Toal, Darren Cole, Jack Doyle; Nicky Low, Aaron McEneff, Rory Hale; Ronan Curtis, Rory Patterson, Ronan Hale.
Subs not used: Eric Grimes, John Cofie, Gavin Peers, Ben Doherty, Niall Logue.
Booked: Aaron McEneff (55).
Cork City: Mark McNulty; Colm Horgan, Séan McLoughlin, Alan Bennett, Shane Griffin; Karl Sheppard, Jimmy Keohane, Conor McCormack, Barry McNamee; Garry Buckley; Graham Cummins.
Subs not used: Peter Cherrie, Danny Kane, Aaron Barry, Conor McCarthy.
Referee: Paul McLaughlin.
Attendance: 2,950 (estimate).
Extratime.ie Player of the Match: Nicky Low (Derry City).