Dylan O'Connell reports from Turner's Cross
Two goals in the last five minutes downed Cork City at Turners Cross, with the Blues running away with the bragging rights in this hotly contested Munster derby.
It looked all certain into the final minutes that Daire O’Connor’s first half strike had claimed the points, but two late goals from Maxim Kouogun and Walter Figueria sealed the bragging rights and points for the Blues.
The night was certainly living up to its derby promise. A challenging opening saw both sides push from the whistle, looking for an early edge over their opponents.
However, it was the visitors that went closest first - with defender John Kavanagh squaring the ball to Shane Duggan. The former Limerick midfielder, facing the Shed End end attempted to shoot on goal - but it was to no avail as his point blank shot bobbled wide.
A succession of passes nearly led to City’s opener after a knitting passage of play led Eoghan Stokes shooting from distance, with Rory Feely putting it out for a corner.
The home support responded to well to the Leesiders early invention. Neale Fenn's side pushed through the pace of Shane Griffin on the flanks.
Securing the ball back from deep positions, they won it back against a pushing Waterford, Griffin found a charging Gary Buckley who saw his glancing header just over the bar.
Duggan looked certain to force Waterford ahead midway through the half, after his in-swinging corner found the head of Kevin Lynch. Lynch's header fell for former Bray Wanderers loanee Dean O’Hallorhan, who shot narrowly wide.
The Blues looked certain to take the lead seconds later after Walter Figueira met Shane Duggan’s through ball to beat the offside trap.
Cutting in from the left side and away from the City defence, the striker was denied at goal by the sprawling arms of Tadhg Ryan.
The opening goal came in spectacular fashion on the 26th minute. Daire O’Connor combing his trademark flare, pierced through a curling shot used the underside of the cross bar to push the ball over the line and give City the lead.
Kenny Browne and Maxim Kouogun where the saviors of the Blues as the half-time whistle loomed. As City dominated possession, the defensive duo pulled together with the lack of space thwarting City as both Mark O’Sullivan and Karl Sheppard missed from inside the penalty area.
While they ha to weather a storm, the Blues ended the second period on top. After a cramble resulting from a corner, Figueira and Browne both had headers dismissed before a long range shot by Duggan was caught by Tadgh Ryan.
The second half showed a sense of maturity flare from the Rebel Army as they began to find a rhythm under Neale Fenn’s possession based system. Linked through Conor McCormack, Sheppard had a cross fizzed away on the line by Matt Connor, before the resulting corner was drilled away at the last second by Feely.
With five minutes remaining, Kouogun grabbed the equalizer for the Blues. After Michael O’Connor tested City from range, Duggan won it back from the corner, and in the space picked out the head of the defender who turned it past a diving Ryan.
City’s search for a winner prove to be their downfall, after George Poynton won it back to square it for a running Figueria. As Dan Casey and Conor McCarthy tracked back, the striker fired it across goal to snatch the winner.
There was almost a third in the final seconds, with O’Connor catching City on the break. The striker chased and powered his way into the area, only to be denied through a swift tackle from Conor McCarthy and the handling of Ryan.
Cork City: Tadhg Ryan, Eoghan Stokes, Conor McCormack, Mark O’Sullivan (Beineon O’Brien Whitmarsh, 82), Garry Buckley, Daire O’Connor (Darragh Crowley, 54), Josh Honohan, Karl Sheppard, Shane Griffin, Conor McCarthy, Dan Casey.
Subs not used: Mark McNulty, Colm Horgan, Ronan Hurley, Alec Byrne.
Waterford: Matt Connor, Rory Feely, Kevin Lynch, Kenny Browne, JJ Lunney, Dean O’Halloran, George Poynton, Sam Bone (Michael O’Connor, 45), John Kavanagh (Maxim Kouogun, 19), Walter Figueria.
Subs not used: Tom Holland, William Fitzgerald, Robert Slevin, Paul Martin.
Referee: Paul McLaughlin.