Report by John O’Shea for EchoLive.ie
The League Of Ireland First Division title race took a major tilt in the direction of Cork City on Friday night at St Colman’s Park.
By winning in the derby clash down in Cobh coupled with Galway United losing at home to Bray, Colin Healy’s side moved seven points clear at the top of the table.
This could prove to be a very decisive night in the battle for automatic promotion thanks to Ruairi Keating’s two goals.
Louis Britton threatened in the seventh minute as he headed wide inside the box from a Cian Bargary cross. Not long afterwards, Ruairi Keating got a low shot away inside the box, which was easily dealt with by Cobh goalkeeper Paul Hunt Ramblers were up for this contest though and went close through a Sean McGrath effort which tested David Harrington in the City goal, with James O’Leary also going close in a good spell for the home side.
There were two great chances at either end on the half-hour mark, City had an excellent opportunity to take the lead, but Britton headed over from close range. Ramblers then went very close through a Brendan Frahill header that was kept out by a wonderful save from Harrington.
This was proving to be an intriguing derby affair, with Ramblers posing a number of questions of the City defence with Jake Hegarty just unable to get a strike away from a dangerous position in the box.
The teams went in level at the break and what was an evenly contested opening half of football.
Ramblers went very close early in the second half, as Conor Drinan flashed a shot just wide after a good ball through by Jason Abbott.
In the 50th minute, Cobh went into the lead. From a Charlie Fleming ball into the box, Jake Hegarty was in the right place at the right time to duly flick the ball home. The goal at that stage was the least Ramblers deserved for their efforts.
But City got back on level terms just past the hour mark. Cian Bargary did well to break away down the wing before teeing up Keating, who slotted the ball home with a low finish.
Boosted by that equaliser, City pushed for a winner and Matt Healy threatened from a free kick on 70 minutes.
Ramblers were just as determined though, with Pierce Phillips forcing another fine save out of David Harrington.
With ten minutes remaining, City struck to go into the lead. From a corner kick by Healy, Keating was there again to knock the ball home and spark wild celebrations from the Cork City supporters behind the goal.
Attention for City turns towards the FAI Cup next weekend when they travel to face Premier Division side Derry City at the Brandywell. Ramblers do not play again until September 2 when they face Treaty United.
Referee: Sean Grant.