Full time report - Cork City 2-1 Dundalk
Cork City went 6 points clear at the top of the table as they maintained their 100% start to the 2017 Airtricity League season at a sold out Turners Cross this afternoon.
A first half Karl Sheppard double sent City on their way as they saw off their rivals Dundalk on a glorious day on Leeside.
City boss John Caulfield had to plan without three key players, with midfielder Greg Bolger, winger Steven Beattie and skipper Johnny Dunleavy forced to watch on from the stands. Alan Bennett and Karl Sheppard came in for Dunleavy and Beattie in the only changes fromt he side that won 2-1 over Shamrock Rovers. Jimmy Keohane lined out at right back with Conor McCormack in the middle of the park.
City went ahead with their first real attempt at goal. Dooley played a lovely ball down the flank for Maguire to chase. The Kilkenny man used all of his pace to sprint down the left touchline before squaring for Sheppard, who tapped home unmarked from 6 yards. It was against the run of play to be sure, but the majority of the sold out crowd at Turners Cross didn't care.
Sheppard doubled his tally after 36 minutes. Maguire's superb through ball split the Lillywhite's defence wide open, with Sheppard timing his run to perfection to nick the ball past the onrushing Rogers and slot home into an empty net.
Dundalk's first shot on target took 34 minutes to arrive, as Michael Duffy tested Mark McNulty from 20 yards. The City keeper could only parry the ball, and Kilduff went down looking for a penalty on the rebound while under pressure from Ryan Delaney- referee Robert Rogers wasn't interested though.
As is usual when these sides meet it was a fiery affair, with Garry Buckley and Seanie Maguire booked for City, and Ciaran Kilduff and Brian Gartland finding their way into the referee’s notebook for the visitors.
City were most impressive on the counter, and tested Rogers after 58 minutes, when Buckley’s superb through ball found Maguire, who forced a save from the Dundalk netminder.
Dundalk made sure it would be an interesting final 15 minutes when David McMillan, just on as a substitute, slotted home left footed past McNulty. The atmosphere at the Cross turned from celebratory to nervous in an instant, with that nervousness increasing with every passing minute.
That nervousness eased a little when Dundalk were reduced to ten men with six minutes to go, Ciaran Kilduff received his marching orders for a second bookable offence as he fould McCormack on the edge of the City box.
An audible groan went out around the Cross as the fourth official held up the board to show five minutes of additional time, but the Rebel Army’s defence held firm to see out the game.
It what was a great advert for League of Ireland football in front of 6,746 spectators, and a huge boost for City’s title credentials.
Cork City (4-3-3) McNulty, McCormack, Delaney, Bennett (capt), O'Connor, Morrissey, Buckley (Campion 75’), Keohane, Dooley (Griffin 90'+3), Sheppard, Maguire (Ellis 90’).
Subs not used : Kavanagh, Nanetti, McCarthy, Smith.
Dundalk (4-3-3) : Rogers, Gannon, Gartland (Capt), Barrett, Massey, Mountney (McMillan 68’), Duffy, McEleney, Benson (Clifford 7' (Stewart 52')), Kilduff.
Subs not used : Sava, McGrath, Hoare, Vemmelund, Stewart.
Attendence : 6,746
Man of the Match : Karl Sheppard
Referee : Robert Rogers