Philip Morrissey reports from Turner’s Cross
Cork City put back-to-back wins together for the first time this season as they overcame UCD 2-0 at Turner's Cross.
It was a deserved victory for the home side under the guidance of caretaker manager John Cotter as they followed up on last week’s win at Dalymount Park.
A goal in each half was enough to see off the visitors and, in doing so, City managed to put distance between themselves and the second-bottom students.
It was another miserable experience for Collie O’Neill’s UCD side as they recorded their sixth loss in a row.
Cotter made two changes to the side that beat Bohemians at Dalymount Park last Friday.
Gearoid Morrissey was forced to sit it out with the injury he suffered that night. Daire O’ Connor came back into the side, while Graham Cummins replace Darragh Rainsford.
O’ Neill made three changes from the team that lost at Finn Harps. Jason McClelland, Sean McDonald and Evan Boland came in for Dan Tobin, Neil Farrugia and Richie O’ Farrell.
UCD decided to have City attack the shed in the first half, and they were immediately under the cosh as O’ Connor immediately made himself a nuisance down the left flank.
Conor McCormack won the ball in midfield and fed him, before the ball was played to James Tilley. His shot was blocked but Conor McCarthy was unable to keep the rebound down.
There was to be little reprieve. O’ Connor was fouled, and the free-kick led to the opener. Tilley floated the ball in, Cummins knocked it down and Karl Sheppard bundled home his first league goal of the season.
UCD tried to get back into the game with a period of possession but it was to naught. City almost struck again when McCarthy’s first-time ball just evaded the touch of Cummins.
It was prompted by a great tackle won again by McCormack. A series of corners caused panic in the visitors penalty area, which they were lucky to survive.
This eagerness to get forward was exemplified by Sean McLoughlin’s accurate pass to Cummins.
He chested it down and played a one-two with Sheppard before setting Tilley free down the right side. UCD were just hanging on at this point.
UCD’s first effort in the match came as Gary O’ Neill was played into space from a ball from the left-side. His shot lacked the power to really test Mark McNulty, however.
This provided a sense of promise from the away side and they came again. McCormack was lucky to not get a booking for taking down McClelland.
The referee waved play on as the ball fell to Yoyo Madhy. He shot over, though, when ideally placed.
They were now beginning to grow in confidence. A patient build-up saw Madhy pick up the ball from the left flank. He played it into Conor Davis and then to Paul Doyle. His deep cross was deflected out for a corner.
The set-piece almost resulted in the equaliser. A shooting opportunity was fashioned by McClelland but was denied by McCormack. The melee saw a penalty shout turned down.
City came back again as the half drew to an end. Dan Casey headed over from a Cummins flick on before another lovely move.
Great vision saw Sheppard play in O’ Connor on the blindside of the defence. He was one-on-one with Kearns but put his shot just wide.
UCD came out in the second-half with a renewed sense of purpose and immediately went at City. The likes of Gary O’ Neill, McClelland and Paul Doyle were beginning to string a couple of moves together and Cork were unable to properly clear.
The ball was played into Liam Scales from a cross and he knocked it down to his fellow centre-half Josh Collins.
He connected with a fierce volley which smacked the crossbar and bounced down. It was ruled to have not crossed the line, to the dismay of the defender.
City made them pay at the other end. Kevin O’ Connor sent in a first-time ball which was prodded home by Cummins – a rare instance of two Cork forwards scoring in one game this season.
Sheppard was a constant outlet for the City defence. On one such instance, he jinked his way into the area, before finding Kevin O’ Connor. His effort was blocked.
Plaintive shouts for a penalty fell on deaf ears. Sheppard was to the fore again when he collected a pass from Gary Comerford. His shot was blocked before it fell to O’ Connor. His attempt went over under pressure.
Substitute Neil Farrugia crafted out a chance on a break, only to be blocked out by McCormack.
Their attempts to get back into the game almost backfired on them when City broke on them after a move broke down.
They had the numbers advantage but failed to make it count. Conor Davis had another chance which was deflected over but City were able to see out the game fairly comfortably.
As the rain continued to come down, it reflected the dejection of another poor away day for UCD.
It gets tougher for the students as they face Shamrock Rovers at Belfield. Cork have an equally big test as they host Dundalk at Turner’s Cross.
Cork City: Mark McNulty; Kevin O'Connor, Sean McLoughlin, Conor McCarthy, Garry Comerford, Dan Casey; Conor McCormack, Daire O'Connor (Pierce Phillips); Graham Cummins (Matthew Gillam), Karl Sheppard, James Tilley.
Subs not used: Tadhg Ryan (gk), Colm Horgan, Gary Boylan, Darragh Rainsford.
UCD: Conor Kearns; Evan Farrell, Josh Collins, Liam Scales, Mark Dignam; Jason McClelland (Richie O’ Farrell), Paul Doyle, Sean McDonald (Neil Farrugia), Gary O'Neill; Yousef Mahdy, Conor Davis (Kevin Coffey).
Subs not used: Gavin Sheridan (gk), Darragh Corcoran, Dan Tobin.
Booked: Paul Doyle (64).
Referee: Tomás Connolly.
Attendance: 2,249 (official).
ExtraTime.ie Player of the Match: Daire O’ Connor (Cork City).