Dylan O'Connell reports from Turner's Cross
Cork City claimed bragging rights over local rivals Cobh Ramblers as the Rebel Army won 4-1 at Turner's Cross in their EA Sports Cup second round encounter.
Goals from Liam Nash, James Tilley, Gary Comerford and underage winger Darragh Crowley saw City into the last eight of the cup, in the first competitive meeting between the sides since 2008.
In a fixture traditionally played in preseason, it was a unique occasion as City and Cobh Ramblers played their first local derby since 2008.
In 11 years of worthy of novel storytelling, it has been quite a transformation between the clubs as Ireland’s second city consolidated their place in the League of Ireland once more.
And in font of a sparely packed Turners Cross, the 11-year gap fell to nothing as local passions came alive.
To City, with only two home wins all season, tonight was a night to make amends. Having already won the Munster Senior Cup two weeks previously, this was an opportunity not only for local bragging right but for momentum with the promise of a cup run so needed by sides struggling for form.
For the visitors, it was a chance to continue the tradition of giant killing which underlay their run to the the EA Sports Cup final last season.
Six of the side that beat Dundalk 1-0 in the semi-final last season featured as the Rams went in search of their first cup win over City since 2006.
It was these emotions and the added locality which inspired the Ramblers in the opening period. Runs from Denzil Fernandez dogged City out wide, with only the commanding physical presence of Alan Bennett denying even the slightest of chances in the box.
Blazed shots by Ben O’Riordan and a clipped effort by Matt Lamb at the far post continued the resistance, as a free spirited Cobh controlled the centre in the very earliest moments.
City were not fazed and a darting run and volleyed effort by Liam Nash was neatly palmed over by Paul Hunt as City grew into the game.
City pushed on and Cobh retreated, allowing Garry Comerford the freedom to drift forward. Through Nash, City were handed a prime opportunity again to make it 1-0 as he caught a cross from Comerford but he headed it an inch over from point blank range.
After that scare, Cobh returned to their original formation. Playing a 4-5-1, Steven Christopher and Matt Lamb covered the defense, allowing for a blanket line to smother Nash and Tilley, while Shane O’Connor drifted into the centre to play off striker Jaze Kabia.
They still gave up chances, including a header off the bar from Nash, but City were never given much space as Cobh remained disciplined and fortified.
A corner from Fernandez saw a flurry within the area to be settled by a half attempted bicycle kick from Kabia. Minutes later, a header by Ben O’Riordan from a Matt Lamb corner flashed across goal.
City went ahead when Tilley went on a dogged run through the centre before he neatly drove low into the bottom left corner to grab his fourth goal of the season.
Cobh were not discouraged by this, and could have equalized before the break as Kabia met a cross from Fernandes and headed squarely out of play.
Their momentum took a hit with only three minutes played in the second half, as the overlapping Tilley found Nash in front of goal and the striker only needing the slightest of taps for City’s second of the night.
The scoreline was slowing running away from the Ramblers and City took control in midfield, forcing Cobh to retreat back, and allowed the youth of City time to explore. Pierce Philips had a low-cut shot almost deflect from Lambe into the goal.
Cobh relied on counter attacks from the pace of Fernandes and Kabia. Half attempts by the pair, saw calmed blocks by Alan Bennett and Sean McLaughlin, as City’s control stretched across the park.
In spite of their control, it took something most unique for City to truly see off the game. A mis-hit clearance by Paul Hunt dropped to the feet of Comerford and, instinctively from 20 yards, the midfielder volleyed it first time to make it 3-0.
Cobh pulled one back soon after as Ian Turner ran forward and shot onto goal. Alan Bennett cleared it to a running Fernandes, who shot point black into the Saint Annes End to pull one back.
Any thought of a comeback was quickly quelled by the footwork of Crowley, who broke forward from the restart into Cobh area and fired into the upper reaches of goal to grab City’s fourth.
At the whistle, dreams of giant killing was quashed and Cork City made it to the quarter finals, John Caulfield and co will go again as Cobh head away with a lot to take from their performance.
Cork City: Mark McNulty; Alan Bennett (Shane Daly Butz 81), Sean McLaughlin (Cian Bargary 69), Ronan Hurley, Gary Boylan, Shane Griffin, Dan Smith, Pierce Philips, Garry Comerford, James Tilley, Liam Nash.
Subs not used: Tadhg Ryan (gk), Conor McCormack, Graham Cummins, Kevin O’Connor.
Booking: Shane Griffin (23).
Cobh Ramblers: Paul Hunt; Kevin Taylor, Ben O’Riordan, David Hurley, Shane O’Connor, Steven Christopher (Cobh Ramblers 32’), Charlie Lyons, Denzil Fernandez, Stephen O’Leary, Jaze Kabia, Matt Lambe.
Subs not used: Adam Mylod (gk), James McSweeney, Cian Leonard, Stephen Kenny, James O’Driscoll, Brain Murphy.
Booking: Steven Christopher (8), Shane O’Connor (450.
Referee: Anthony Buttimer.
Extratime.ie Player of the Match: Liam Nash (Cork City).