Teenager Cian Bargary enjoyed a memorable league debut when scoring the only goal of the game to get Cork City back to winning ways at the UCD Bowl. On the pitch just six minutes, 18-year-old winger Bargary got the final touch to head the ball over the line to decide this encounter on 72 minutes.
That stemmed from skipper Karl Sheppard’s looping header merely being palmed into the air by UCD keeper Conor Kearns, leaving Bargary with a close-range finish. Victory sees Cork jump two places up the table to sixth place and move 12 points clear of relegation play-off place.
An eighth successive defeat for UCD keeps them bottom of the table on goal difference from Finn Harps. City interim manager John Cotter said the beauty of having to play so soon after the Dundalk defeat was the opportunity for his players to give a positive response to Friday’s 2-0 defeat at Turner’s Cross.
UCD came into the match without a point since beating Cork at the same venue last month and last Friday’s home defeat to Shamrock Rovers had seen the Students slump to the foot of the table. Liam Buckley returned from suspension to the midfield, with Graham Cummins dropping to the bench in the only change for Cork from Friday.
UCD retained their 3-5-2 formation, with Sean McDonald replacing Yoyo Mahdy up front their only switch. But that rearranged defence almost gifted Cork the ideal start just two minutes in when a stray pass from Evan Farrell went straight to James Tilley.
Farrell was relieved when Tilley’s through ball for Sheppard had just a little too much pace on it as it ran through for Conor Kearns. The UCD keeper was soon worked as he got down to push a Tilley drive round a post for the first corner of the night.
A better save was needed on five minutes as UCD’s defence was exposed again from a Boylan cross from the right as Buckley rose well to get in a downward header that Kearns had to parry.
In a very positive start start by City, Sheppard burst in on the right to again work Kearns with a low drive. From their third corner of the game on 12 minutes, Daire O’Connor scuffed his shot wide after home captain Gary O’Neill had only half cleared Tilley’s delivery.
We were 15 minutes in before UCD threatened for the first time; Richie O’Farrell blazing a volley over the Cork crossbar from Republic of Ireland under-21 international Neil Farrugia’s deep cross from the left.
Mark McNulty was called into action for the first time 10 minutes later after UCD got their passing game going to carve Cork open down the middle. O’Neill’s picked out Jason McClelland who hooked a ball through first time for the run of Conor Davis. But the striker just didn’t get enough power n his shot as McNulty saved comfortably.
A slip by the Cork keeper then almost resulted in UCD taking the lead three minutes later; to his credit, McNulty recovered superbly to make a diving save to palm away McDonald’s shot.
A mistake at the other end presented Sheppard with a chance to relieve the pressure. Kearns took a heavy touch from a back pass which the City striker was alert to to steal in and take the ball off him. The attempted chip from a tight angle was just too tight as Kearns recovered to gather.
It an open game, Cork had a let off three minutes before the interval. Farrugia made space on the left to cross, with City relieved to see Paul Doyle’s header flash wide of McNulty’s left-hand post.
It remained an even contest into the second half with Sheppard’s flick header from a Tilley cross bring a fine save from Kearns 10 minutes in. With his under-21 intentional manager Stephen Kenny in attendance, Farrugia was causing Cork problem on the left and he had appeals for a penalty dismissed on 64 minutes when going down under Tilley’s challenge. Tilley then curled a shot over the crossbar before the key moment rrived on 72 minutes as Bargary began his League of Ireland career in the best fashion possible.
Kearns; Farrell, Collins, Scales; McClelland, Doyle (Bishop, 90), O’Neill, O’Farrell, Farrugia; McDonald, Davis (Mahdy, 82).
McNulty; Boylan, McCarthy, McLoughlin, Comerford; McCormack, K. O’Connor; Tilley, Buckley, D O’Connor (Bargary, 66); Sheppard (Cummins, 90+5.
Iwan Griffith (FAW).