Cork City remain bottom of the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division with just three games remaining after a pair of Patrick Hoban goals gave Dundalk victory at Turner’s Cross on Tuesday night.
After a scoreless first half in which City competed well, the reigning champions’ class eventually told with Hoban proving the difference with strikes in the 73rd and 75th minute.
Having made five changes for Friday’s loss to Bohemians, City interim manager Colin Healy did the same here, with Liam Bossin coming in in goal as Mark McNulty, on his 40th birthday, missed out due to a back strain. Deshane Dalling played up front on his own as City settled into a 4-5-1, with Joseph Olowu playing at right-back and Uniss Kargbo on the right side of midfield. There was also a change on the bench for City, as former assistant manager John Cotter was part of Healy’s coaching team.
With Dundalk having the bulk of the play in the first half, City sat back but kept a good shape and most of the Lilywhites’ early efforts were speculative, with Cameron Dummigan curling an early shot wide while Michael Duffy sent a half-volley off-target in the 22nd minute.
Twice in quick succession, Duffy was nearly in behind the home defence but he was denied first by Alan Bennett and then Bossin while Patrick Hoban sent a tame shot straight at the goalkeeper after Patrick McEleney had picked him out.
Eight minutes before half-time, there were vocal Dundalk shouts for a penalty as Alan Bennett cut out Joseph Oduwa’s cross and the ball bounced up and hit his arm, but referee Neil Doyle ignored the protests. City had their first goal effort in the wake of that as Dylan McGlade found Cian Coleman and he carried the ball forward before unleashing a low long-range effort which Gary Rogers had to stretch to save.
City brought on Alec Byrne for Uniss Kargbo for the second half, switching to three at the back with Ochieng moving to the right flank, but the pattern of the game remained the same, the hosts trying their best to contain their visitors, who asked more questions as time moved on.
Eleven minutes into the second period, Dundalk went as close as they had done up until then, with Duffy’s low shot parried by Bossin and rebounding off Duffy but thankfully bouncing wide. Soon after that, Duffy went down as he and Olowu contested a Duffy cross but, as with the first-half penalty appeal, referee Doyle wasn’t interested.
In the wake of that, City twice went close – first, Dylan McGlade tested Rogers with a good shot from the left and then Gearóid Morrissey had a low shot from distance which went wide. By and large though, Dundalk continued to exert more of the pressure and, midway through the half, Jake O’Brien did well to clear away a dangerous Dummigan cross.
However, the dam eventually broke in the 73rd minute. Dummigan, so involved throughout, was central as it was his cross from the left which Bossin couldn’t claim under pressure and, when the ball broke, Hoban reacted quickest to finish from close range.
Two minutes later, the lead was doubled. The move originated from the right flank this time as Seán Gannon drove forward with a quick counter-attack and squared for Hoban, who slotted home.
City sub Cian Bargary had an effort that wasn’t far away as City sought to find a response, but it was as much as they would be allowed as Dundalk comfortably saw the game out.
Referee: Neil Doyle.