Dylan O'Connell reports from Turner's Cross
It was normal service resumed as Dundalk overcame Cork City to claim the win and the 2019 President's Cup by a 2-1 scoreline at Turner's Cross on Saturday evening.
First half goals from Robbie Benson and Patrick Hoban secured the win for the Lilywhites, with Kevin O'Connor scoring on his return to City, in what as a dominating performance from the double champions.
It was a tight opening with chances at a minimal as crosses from Shane Griffin and a corner from Michael Duffy both fell without an attacking touch to take the ball on target. Despite this, the game opened up as both midfields clashed.
Duffy found some space to shoot directly into Mark McNulty's hands. Dundalk almost made it 1-0 as a corner came to captain Brian Gartland who was only narrowly denied by a jumping Shane Griffin at the far post.
The Leesiders were forced into long ball football which not only isolated Graham Cummins at the top, but also only strengthened Dundalk's control through a roaming Chris Shields.
Dundalk continued putting on the pressure as a curling free kick from Michael Duffy only dropped millimeters wide of goal.
During this period of dominance, chances were constant requiring a diving Conor McCormack to twart a John Moutney volley, sending it out for a corner.
From the setpeice the deadlock was broken as Patrick Hoban knocked it on from a Michael Duffy to Robbie Benson to send it across goal and make it 1-0.
As the first wained, City finally got their first meaningful chance of the half as Daire O'Connor exploded down the right flank. He got by Dane Massey but the squared ball fell straight to Gary Rodgers.
In the dying moments, Dundalk doubled their lead as Chris Shields teed up Duffy for one last attack, with the cross finding an unmarked Hoban. Picking up where 2018 left off, the striker headed low passed Mark McNulty and Dundalk entered halftime with a comfortable 2-0 lead.
City managed to click into gear in the second half. Using Cummins as an anchor, the roaming Daire O'Connor released the striker onto the right flank of Gary Rodgers, with a shot blasting low into the keeper's hands.
This opening seemed to inspire City as Conor McCarthy next tried to beat the Dundalk line as a cross into the box fell just short of both Cummins and James Tilley.
Duffy danced through to place a near perfect pass for Hoban but a clawing McNulty gathered. City never lost focus though. Shots from Conor McCarthy and the supply from Daire O'Connor continued to keep the hosts hopes of a fourth President's Cup in a row alive.
The introduction of Kevin O'Connor off the bench reaped early rewards as with only his second touch he sent a looping free kick into the goal at the Shed End to make it 2-1.
The goal was a catalyst as City ignited into play. Daire O'Connor controlled the play, as City switched to possession based play, and through this gaps appeared.
A loose header glanced off the face of Dan Casey and a shot from Kevin O'Connor all mounted pressure on Dundalk, but to little avail as the game wore on.
However, any momentum was only secondary with City's attack proving toothless in the final minutes as chances were minimal against the dominating Dundalk defense lead by Brian Gartland.
It was not to be for City in the end, with the Lilywhites continuing their winning ways into 2019.
Cork City: Mark McNulty; Sean McLaughin, Conor McCarthy, Shane Griffin, Dan Casey, Gearoid Morrissey, Conor McCormack (Kevin O'Connor 63), Garry Buckley, Daire O'Connor, James Tilley, Graham Cummins.
Subs not used: Tadhg Ryan, Alan Bennett, Colm Horgan, Cian Murphy, Ronan Hurley, Darragh Rainsford.
Booked: James Tilley.
Dundalk: Gary Rodgers, Sean Gannon, Brian Gartland, Sean Hoare, Chris Shiels, Michael Duffy, John Moutney, Patrick Hoban (Georgie Kelly 82), Patrick McEleney (Sean Murray 68), Dane Massey, Robbie Benson (Dean Jarvis 90).
Subs not used: Aaron McCarey, Daniel Kelly, Stephen Folan, Daniel Cleary.
Bookings: Chris Shields.
Referee: Rob Hennessy.
Attendance: 2,500 (estimate).
GALLERY https://t.co/33mtb5iMTY photographer @Timtimmedia was at the #PresidentsCup featuring @CorkCityFC v @DundalkFC and you can view his photos via the link below #ETPhotos— Extratime.ie (@ExtratimeNews) February 9, 2019