By Denis Hurley for EchoLive.ie
Cork City could have little argument with the result as they fell to defeat to Shamrock Rovers at Tallaght Stadium on Friday night.
City’s winless run against the Hoops has now stretched to five games and the hosts were unquestionably the superior side before the crowd of 3,112. Throughout, they possessed more of an attacking threat and once they scored twice in the opening quarter-hour of the second half there was an inevitability about the outcome.
Gearóid Morrissey returned for the first time since the win over Bohemians with Kevin O’Connor moving to left-back as Garry Comerford missed out. In addition, Colm Horgan returned at right-back for Gary Boylan.
Rovers had the better of the first half and created more chances but City defended well, with Garry Buckley setting the tone as he picked up a first-minute meeting for a foul on Dylan Watts. Conor McCormack, sitting deep, got in a number of blocks but City enjoyed good fortune at times, with Trevor Clarke’s cross on 17 minutes bouncing off Mark McNulty’s crossbar and away.
While City looked to play football when they could and pressed Rovers as they worked the ball out of defence, goal opportunities were rare. Captain Karl Sheppard did have an effort from outside the area but it was high and wide.
As the first period drew to a close, Rovers had their best chance. Jack Byrne, central to everything positive the Hoops did, provided a good delivery from a free kick on the left and centre-back Roberto Lopes’ glancing header was just wide.
However, within five minutes of the restart, Rovers had the lead. Trevor Clarke and Ronan Finn were the architects of a well-worked move down their left flank and when a low cross from Finn wasn’t cut out, the ball travelled through to right-back Joey O’Brien, who produced a good low finish to the net.
City sought to respond and Tilley’s dangerous free kick into the area looped off Finn’s head but goalkeeper Alan Mannus collected the ball and just after the hour, Rovers had their second goal.
Initially, O’Brien went close to a second for him and his team as Mark McNulty had to save well from a header following Byrne’s free kick. However, Byrne sent in the resultant corner from the left and Lopes met the ball at the back post to make it 2-0.
Pierce Phillips, Graham Cummins and debutant Ben O’Brien-Whitmarsh were introduced to the fray as City sought to turn things around, but they continued to be frustrated.
Phillips tested Mannus with a low cross while Sheppard’s delivery needed a touch but none was forthcoming.
Thereafter, Rovers saw things out comfortably and Trevor Clarke nearly made it 3-0 late on. The result ensures that they keep pace with Dundalk at the top of the table. For City, the focus turns to another trip to Dublin on Monday, with Bohemians the opposition in the EA Sports Cup.
Referee: Robert Harvey