Dylan O’Connell reports from Turner’s Cross
Cork City made it three in a row Munster Senior Cup successes as the Leesiders overcame Midleton 3-1 at Turner's Cross on Friday evening. In what was a spirited encounter between the sides, goals from Darragh Rainsford, Dan Smith and James Tilley retained the trophy for City as they clinched their 18th Munster crown.
In a fixture which offered a break for both sides, both City and Midleton took a step back from their league campaigns for this local cup competition. Resting fourth in the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division table, City used this cup clash as an opportunity to experiment, offering a blend of youth and experience in their starting line up.
Academy graduates Ronan Hurley and Pierce Philips featured along with a competitive debut for Tadgh Ryan as Darragh Rainsford also made his return to City, after being ruled out for the first month of the season through injury.
The opportunity of a final also offered a break in a congested schedule for Midleton. Sitting second from bottom in the Munster Senior League and after losing 2-1 to Avondale in the FAI Intermediate Cup quarter final, this encounter was a fresh start for the side. Featured in their starting XI were a number of former Cork City talents such as Kevin Murray, Danny Morrissey and Ray Lally.
Following a balanced opening, the home side took a quick fire lead as Tilley crossed it in to an unmarked Rainsford, leaving the Limerick native needing only a tap in to make it 1-0.
Midleton were resilient and fought back. Within seconds of the restart, a free from Emmett Cotter found Murray at the far side of the box, with the defenders header powering across goal with only inches preventing it from hitting the target.
Through the slightest of chances, Midleton sought inspiration as John Keane turned to release Alan Healy leaving Colm Horgan bringing the winger down for a free just outside the area. From the free, City’s lead was in jeopardy as Cotter this time found Keane who was denied by the tightest of angles to hit the side netting.
Midleton gave it there all for an equaliser and where almost rewarded on the half time. Tijani Aibor forced his way through and saw a shot seemingly destined for the net only for Tadgh Ryan to gather.
Five minutes into the second half City doubled their lead. Running onto a ball from Rainsford, Dan Smith charged down the left side to swing it in for Tilley in the centre. As O’Donoghue ran out the ball simply curled in to an ecstatic roar as City went 2-0 up.
City’s third came from James Tilley’s third goal in the campaign campaign with a panenka style penalty into the Shed End to give his side one hand on the cup.
Even with the uphill task facing Midleton, they still fought back with everything they had. A late consolation came thanks to an own goal. It came from a deflected shot from Kevin Kruschel which spiraled off Gary Comerford to make it 3-1.
In the dying moments, City saw red as a rash challenge from Tilley saw Kevin Murray go down in the centre circle. Looking straight at the incident, referee Graham Kelly was left with no choice but to show a red card as the medical staff were signaled for treatment.
Out of the free flow football everyone had seen between the sides, it was an uncharacteristic moment from the home team and one of regret as Tilley marched down the tunnel.
While the scoreline may have reflected the division between the sides, Midleton’s spirited performance was one to remember but City went on to lift their 18th Munster Senior Cup.
Cork City: Tadhg Ryan, Colm Horgan (Gary Boylan 62), Alan Bennett (Sean McLoughlin 78) , Pierce Philips, Ronan Hurley, Gary Comerford, James Tilley, Kevin O’Connor, Liam Nash (Darragh Crowley 85), Dan Smith (Cian Bagary 70), Darragh Rainsford (Gary Buckley 85).
Subs not used: Mark McNulty, Graham Cummins.
Booked: James Tilley.
Midleton: Andrew O’Donoghue, James McCarthy, Alan Healy, Kevin Murray (Jamie Collins 85), Cillian Hurley, James Leahy (Danny Morrissey 67), Ray Lally, Emmett Cotter (Robert Williams, 80), Jake Hegarty, Tijani Aibor, Kevin Kruschel (Loic Abuefang 90).
Subs not used: Conor O’Leary, Roy Savage, Luke Smith.
Referee: Graham Kelly.
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