Cork City suffered defeat at Tallaght Stadium, as a poor opening half hour gave them a mountain to climb against Shamrock Rovers.
After a frenetic opening ten minutes, Rovers hit the front on 13, as Ronan Finn took aim from distance and his effort took a deflection to wrong foot McNulty on the way to the net.
The goal seemed to rock the away side and they went two behind on 20 minutes as Brandon Miele fired a cracking shot to the back of the net from outside the box.
Rovers were the dominant force and City were struggling to get a foothold in the game, but they did begin to claw their way into the contest in the closing stages of the half.
With his side two down at the interval, John Caulfield brought on Ellis and Williams for Bennett and McCormack in a bid to get back into the tie. From the restart, City were much improved and set about reducing the deficit.
Their attacking intent paid off with twenty minutes to go, as Gearóid Morrissey halved the deficit with a smart finish. As the clock ticked towards 90 minutes, City’s intent to level saw Rovers pose an ever greater threat on the counter and they sealed the game with minutes remaining as O’Connor made it 3-1 to Rovers.
Referee: Paul McLaughlin.