It’s two defeats from two for Cork City in the nascent SSE Airtricity League Premier Division season after they endured a difficult night at Tallaght Stadium.
Before a crowd of 5,106, Graham Burke scored five goals as Shamrock Rovers showed no mercy against ten-man City in the second half, leaving Neale Fenn’s side bottom of the table.
Having battled well in tough conditions for more than half an hour against the FAI Cup holders, City fell behind to a Burke goal and the Republic of Ireland international doubled the lead as half-time approached. When Deshane Dalling was red-carded in injury time, any hopes City had of taking something from the game evaporated.
Rovers asserted their dominance in the second period, with Jack Byrne adding a third goal before Burke completed his hat-trick and then added two more goals in the closing stages.
If City can take any consolation from the defeat, it’s that there were some bright spots when the game was level, with Dalling showing up well on the left flank – he came into the team for Reyon Dillon while Alec Byrne replaced the injured Cian Coleman in midfield.
It was Dallin who had the first chance, firing over after dispossessing Aaron McEneff, and while Rovers did have the better of the play, City were well in the game. Midway through the first half, a good ball down the line by right-back Kyron Stabana gave Dylan McGlade – playing at centre-forward, having been on the wing against Shelbourne last week – an opportunity. He showed good footwork to get past Roberto Lopes and was denied only by an Alan Mannus save at the expense of a corner.
Prior to that, Rovers’ Graham Burke had had a low shot saved by Liam Bossin while Alec Byrne and Joe Redmond had had to do well to cut out dangerous crosses, but Rovers were rewarded for their persistence in the 33rd minute.
A cross into the City area by Rovers captain Ronan Finn was only half-cleared and when the ball fell to Burke, he produced a controlled finish to the bottom corner of the net. While City looked to respond with Dalling flashing a shot wide, the goal energised Rovers and winger Neil Farrugia twice went close – drawing a good save from Bossin – while Burke had a long-range effort.
On 42, Jack Byrne might have made it 2-0 but just before he could shoot he was denied by an important interception by his namesake Alec, however Rovers didn’t have to wait too long. Again, a cross from the right by Finn was the source, with a deflection giving Burke a tap-in as everybody waited for an offside flag which never came. In first-half injury time, things got even worse for City as Dalling was shown a straight red card by referee Seán Grant for a dangerous late tackle on Rovers defender Lee Grace.
Reyon Dillon was introduced for the second half, replacing Dáire O’Connor, but Rovers had intent from the restart as Aaron McEneff had a low shot saved and then Redmond got in an important block to deny Aaron Greene, whose follow-up shot was kept out by Bossin.
On the hour-mark, the third goal arrived, the result of lovely Rovers interplay as Burke’s backheel found Greene, whose pass allowed Jack Byrne to fire past Bossin, who got a hand to the shot.
It was 4-0 on 75, as an overhit Rovers cross from the left was retrieved by Burke, then curled home a fine effort for his third before he got another minutes later, a deflected shot wrong-footing Bossin. He got his third of the second half and fifth overall in the 80th minute.
Unfortunately for Neale Fenn and his side, a trying start gets even harder with their next assignment on Monday night, away to champions Dundalk, who picked up their second win as they saw off Shelbourne.
Referee: Seán Grant (Wexford).