Two second half goals from Sean Maguire and Karl Sheppard were enough for victory against Bray Wanderers as Cork City reclaimed second place in the table.
Bray had the first chance of the game when good link up play from Karl Moore and Ger Pender saw the latter hold onto the ball before playing in a charging Robbie Creevy.
The midfielder’s shot was from an acute angle but McNulty still had to save and hold to stop the Seagulls going in front. His quick kick up field was then just too much for Maguire to run on to.
Cork had their first chance as Greg Bolger’s freekick in the 10th minute was headed up in the air by Hugh Douglas and Steven Beattie headed wide when challenging Conor Kenna for the looping ball.
As City were beginning to coming into the game, a corner from Kevin O’Connor saw Maguire get a header on goal. To the striker’s dismay, the ball hit a fellow Cork shirt and went out for a goalkick.
A minute later, Beattie picked up the ball on the edge of the box. He cut inside and, perhaps unintentionally, laid the ball off to Sheppard as he slipped. The winger came onto the ball to hit a low shot that just went wide of Cherrie’s post.
The game became hampered by overhit passes and play being lost in the final third as Bray looked to play on the counter as Cork pushed men forward.
Just before the half hour mark, the Seagulls had the chance to go in front as Karl Moore released Douglas down the right channel. His low front post cross was met by Pender but he flashed his shot into the advertising hoardings. Gearóid Morrissey then had a shot go high and wide in response up the other end.
Cork were having a lot of joy down the right hand side and Morrissey sent in a cross that needed to be headed out by McNally for a corner. Alan Bennett then saw his powerful header go over from the resulting set piece.
Cork started to step up the tempo and Garry Buckley was next to have a chance, striking a low effort straight into Cherrie’s hands after hold up play. Buckley then just missed a low cross along the floor from Sheppard after Beattie was tackled on the edge of the box. Beattie got up to then see his shot-cum-cross saved by Cherrie after Cork held onto the ball after the other chance.
A late Bray freekick in the first half needed a hand from McNulty to be put out for a corner, with the first delivery then seeing Andrew Lewis half-volley deflected out before Douglas headed over Mark Salmon’s delivery from the left side as the half came to a close.
Just after the restart, Cork’s Maguire chested down a defensive clearance before volleying just over Peter Cherrie’s crossbar. Maguire was involved again as he got down the left hand side and crossed towards the back post.
Beattie was there to head across Cherrie but McNally somehow got an acrobatic touch on the ball to flick it onto the post and out for a corner. From the resulting delivery, Buckley miscued his header out.
Maguire was in the thick of things as he looked like he scored the opening goal of the game on the fifty-second minute, as he was flicked in by Beattie and slide the ball past Cherrie, but the assistant’s flag was raised as the net rippled.
Cork went out of the game for a bit as overhit passes once again became a bane of good play and it wasn’t until the 60th that another chance came about, as substitute Gavan Holohan saw his shot well saved after a layoff from Sheppard.
Another set piece for Cork nearly forced the opening as Bolger’s delivery saw Sheppard head past Cherrie before a defender headed off the line and the referee blew up for foul play in the box.
Danny Morrissey then saw another shot easily saved by Cherrie after coming on for Beattie on the right hand side.
Yet it would be down the left that the goal would eventually come from for Cork with Kevin O’Connor whipping one in after getting down the line. Sheppard got a touch to bring it down but it was Maguire who swiveled and volleyed home to give the Leesiders the lead in the 67th minute.
It was 2-0 three minutes later as Holohan’s corner went to the back post. It was headed back across and Sheppard was quickest to react, with his shot squirmed into the bottom corner despite a hand from Cherrie.
The two goal cushion allowed Cork to relax and they didn’t create too much in the game afterwards as Bray were also unable to create chances with the City rearguard staying back more.
Maguire nearly got in behind the Bray defence as he flicked a pass from Holohan over the Bray defence but Cherrie rushed out to head to ball away. Bolger then had a great chance to extend the advantage but his shot was well saved by the Scottish netminder.
And that was to be that as Cork took up second place in the table ahead of Derry City while Bray Wanderers are looking over their shoulders as they sit a point above the bottom.
Bray Wanderers: Peter Cherrie; Hugh Douglas, Alan McNally, Conor Kenna, Jason Marks; Karl Moore, Robbie Creevy, Mark Salmon (Darragh Noone 77), Dylan Connolly; Ger Pender, Andrew Lewis (Gareth McDonagh 63).
Subs not used: Aaron Shanahan (gk), Sean Noble, Curtis Murphy, Daniel Blackbyrne, Alan Byrne.
Booked: Jason Marks (61), Robbie Creevy (86).
Cork City: Mark McNulty; Michael McSweeney, Alan Bennett, Johnny Dunleavy, Kevin O’Connor; Gearóid Morrissey (Gavan Holohan 44), Garry Buckley, Greg Bolger; Steven Beattie (Danny Morrissey 63), Sean Maguire, Karl Sheppard (Stephen Dooley 88).
Subs not used: Alan Smith (gk), Ian Turner, Mark O’Sullivan, Colin Healy.
Referee: Paul McLaughlin.
Extratime.ie Player of the Match: Steven Beattie (Cork City).