Report by Andrew Horgan for EchoLive.ie
Cork City are First Division champions despite drawing 0-0 with Wexford at Turner’s Cross on Friday night.
The stalemate coupled with Galway United’s defeat to Athlone Town was enough to secure the title for City and seal their return to the Premier Division.
Colin Healy, who was serving the second of his three-game touchline ban, made just the one change from the starting eleven he selected for their last league fixture – the 2-1 defeat away to Galway – three weeks ago and it was enforced with Jimmy Corcoran replacing the injured David Harrington in goal.
It then took City another ten minutes to create their first meaningful sight at goal and that came shortly after news of an Athlone equaliser at Eamonn Deacy Park filtered around the huge crowd of 6,035.
Now playing with more urgency attacking a raucous Shed End, Barry Coffey sent a looping header goalwards from just outside the six-yard box but his effort was claimed by the retreating Alex Moody before the attacking midfielder then drilled inches wide of the near post from distance.
The Rebel Army knew Wexford were going to be a tough opponent given that they only won their two away meetings at Ferrycarrig Park 1-0 while their last encounter here ended 1-1 back in May.
And the visitors went close to taking the lead against the run of play shortly after the quarter of an hour mark but Jack Doherty’s shot from long-range deflected narrowly over the target.
But they were somehow denied the crucial opening goal of the game midway through the first half by three incredible saves by Moody.
The Wexford number one stretched to stop Cian Murphy’s strike from a few yards out, then he clawed Cian Coleman’s headed rebound away from his line before finally, he stopped the captain’s bicycle kick after a goalmouth scramble had ensued.
The league leaders continued to play with intensity as the first half drew to a close but they just couldn’t get the goal that their performance deserved.
Cian Bargary’s long throws into the box remained problematic for the Wexford defence but Matt Healy couldn’t find the net when the ball finally broke to him on the edge of the box.
Cian Murphy had City’s final strike in anger of the first half but his powerful hit was denied by Moody before the keeper stopped a similar attempt from Ruairí Keating at the beginning of the second period.
Then the moment the home support craved came in the 69th minute. Or so they thought. Coffey appeared to tuck the ball home after Keating’s header came back off the bar but the wild celebrations were cut short as the officials signalled for a free-out.
In the end, it mattered little as Galway’s loss elsewhere meant the draw was enough to claim the title.
Referee: Paul Norton.