Diarmuid Kearney reports from Celtic Park
Cork City continued their winning start to pre-eason as goals from James Tilley and two from trialist Liam Ward saw them to a hard-fought 3-1 win over Killarney Celtic.
Built as a David v Goliath contest, with last year’s League of Ireland runners up against the amateur side of Denny Premier A, the home side did not give an inch and put Cork under pressure all game.
The away side looked bright from the start and created the game’s first chance after seven minutes as Garry Buckley hit an aerobatic effort wide.
Cork pressed the Killarney defence looking for an opening, but Tilley could only watch his effort tipped over the bar by Roy Kelliher in the Killarney goal.
Killarney kept their defensive line strong early on but failed to create any clear cut chances. Cork, on the other hand, were missing opportunities, with Sean McLoughlin and Karl Sheppard both missing the target.
Cork got their reward six minutes before the break as loan acquisition from Brighton James Tilley managed to fire home at the second attempt after Kelliher saved the original effort with his legs.
The Leesiders looked comfortable after taking the lead but again failed to convert any real goal scoring opportunity.
Karl Sheppard missed the target yet again while Darragh Rainsford and Sean McLoughlin had their efforts saved again by Kelliher as the referee blew for half time.
The away side continued to pressure Killarney straight from the restart as Kelliher was called into action yet again as both sides lppled a little tentative in front of goal.
Cork had more of the chances but found it difficult to increase their lead as Rainsford and half-time substitute Ward both failed to hit the target.
Cork grabbed their second just after the hour as Ward managed to capitalise on some space outside the area and fired a low shot from distance that was buried in the bottom corner.
The floodlights were on in Killarney as the home side held their own against a tough opponent and, despite Cork’s endless onslaught of the Killarney goal, it was the home side who registered the game’s next goal.
Cork failed to clear a free kick on the right, which resulted in Gary Keane heading home from close range.
After getting back into contention, the home side looked to chase a second goal as Cork had failed to kill the game off as a contest.
Killarney were failing to test Cork keeper Mark McNulty, however, and in goal they opted to swap out Kelliher for Michael Gustafik.
Cork wrapped the game up in the 72nd minute, however, as Ward managed to get his second goal as the striker headed from close range into an almost empty net.
A few eyebrows were raised that the goal had stood due to a foul in the build-up, but referee Seamus O’Mahony signalled for a goal.
As the clock wound down after Cork’s third goal, the home side still looked to create chances and compete, but they failed to create anything to test Mark McNulty.
Cork deservedly won on the night but a fantastic performance by Killarney Celtic made it a challenge along the way.
Killarney Celtic: Roy Kelliher (Michael Gustafik 64); Sean Maloney, Shane Brosnan, Steven Mahony, Brendan Falvey (Conor McCarthy 58); Gary Keane, James Sugure (Chris Brady 46), Patrick McGrath (Jared Barton 82), Daniel Roche (Wayne Sparling 69); Matthew Keane (Ryan Kelliher 79); Cathal Shea (Steven McCarthy 79).
Subs not used: None.
Cork City: Mark McNulty; Colm Horgan (Gary Commerford 64), Sean McLoughlin, Dan Casey, Conor McCarthy, Shane Griffin; Conor McCormack (Pierce Phillips 64), Garry Buckley; Karl Sheppard (Liam Ward 46), James Tilley, Darragh Rainsford (Daire O’Connor 80).
Subs not used: Tadhg Ryan (gk).
Booked: Garry Buckley (81)
Referee: Seamus O’Mahony.