|29/03/19||19:45||SSE Airtricity League||2019||3,783||RTÉ|
By Denis Hurley for EchoLive.ie
Michael Duffy’s first-half goal proved to be the winner as champions Dundalk inflicted a third Premier Division defeat of the season on Cork City tonight.
Before a crowd of 3,783 at Oriel Park, City competed well with Conor McCormack once again prominent in midfield but they weren’t able to make enough of an attacking impact, despite the best efforts of Graham Cummins in dealing with aerial deliveries. The result leaves them in a share of fifth place with Waterford.
With Dan Casey out with an ankle injury, Seán McLoughlin slotted into defence on his return following a hamstring problem, while Dáire O’Connor’s dislocated shoulder meant a vacancy in midfield. Kevin O’Connor came in for him and played at left-back, with Shane Griffin moving forward.
However, within nine minutes of the start, Griffin found himself moved to right-back as Colm Horgan was forced to retire early, with Garry Comerford coming in. Dundalk were having the better of the opening, with Duffy going close more than once and Jamie McGrath lively in an attacking midfield role.
By and large, City were solid and pressed well, forcing the hosts into turnovers but unfortunately unable to capitalise. It wasn’t until a low Karl Sheppard effort at Gary Rogers on 17 minutes that they had their first real effort, though just after the half-hour McLoughlin wasn’t far away following an O’Connor corner.
O’Connor himself had an effort from a free kick just after that which wasn’t far away, but on 37 Dundalk had the lead. After a City attack came to nothing, the Lilywhites broke quickly and Michael Duffy found McGrath on the left before continuing on into the area, meeting the cross at the back post to send the home support wild.
Duffy had another effort straight at Mark McNulty before the break but it remained 1-0 and City brought on Alan Bennett for the second half, replacing the earlier sub Comerford. Eight minutes after the restart, Duffy almost provided an assist for a second goal, Hoban meeting the winger’s free kick only for McNulty to produce a fine save.
City were finding it more difficult to make inroads, but there were half-chances. Just before the hour, Graham Cummins headed wide following a Seán McLoughlin ball from deep and soon after that Cummins’ flick-on nearly put Karl Sheppard in but the ball got caught under his feet.
Dundalk weren’t as incisive or as threatening as in the first half, but still enjoyed good territory and midway through the second half Daniel Kelly’s mazy run into the area was only ended by a good McLoughlin challenge.
Kelly might have made it 2-0 on 81, with McNulty doing well to save from close range. City had a last throw of the dice as Dan Smith was introduced for Kevin O’Connor and there was nearly a chance created as Graham Cummins caught Dundalk goalkeeper Gary Rogers in possession but the ball bounced clear, to the relief of the home faithful.
There were four minutes of added time and City piled forward. Conor McCarthy went closest, having a shot blocked from Alan Bennett’s lay-off. City claimed a handball but the appeals were half-hearted and Dundalk didn’t allow another opportunity.