A bad season got worse for Cork City as they crashed out of the FAI Cup at Eamonn Deacy Park tonight.
In what is expected to be John Cotter’s last match in charge, with Neale Finn poised to replace him, Cork will have to turn their attentions back to the League of Ireland Premier Division after Conor Melody fired Galway United to the quarter-finals.
Fenn was in attendance as Melody scoring the crucial goal in added-time at the end of the first-half. Galway were full value for that lead, and they looked like the team who had more on the line, even with Cork’s current managerial uncertainty.
Cork’s best chance of the opening half came in the fifth minute. Kevin O’Connor swung in a corner from the right flank but Mark O’Sullivan’s header ended up wide of Kevin Horgan’s right-hand upright.
A young Galway side found their feet in the opening quarter and they began to impose themselves on Cork while the pacey Conor Barry and Melody provided the outlet up front.
Cotter’s men lacked composure and retreated deep into their own half, as Galway dominated. Former Galway defender Colm Horgan’s last-ditch block prevented Barry from giving the home side the lead in the 16th minute but Galway continued to pile forward.
Barry and centre-half Stephen Walsh both had chances in the Cork penalty area but they couldn’t find a way past goalkeeper Mark McNulty. In a frustrating half for the Leesiders, Cork winger Daire O’Connor departed injured and was replaced with another ex-United player, Karl Sheppard.
City midfielder Gearoid Morrissey got off a shot in anger before the break but didn’t trouble Kevin Horgan. Instead, Stephen Christopher took a corner in the 47th minute and Melody finished past McNulty.
Cork were out early on the resumption with Shane Griffin taking Joel Coustrain’s place. Cork were desperate for some inspiration and they did offer a bit more going forward while Horgan pushed forward down the right wing. But Galway were still dangerous when McNulty had to get down well to save from the impressive Barry.
Morrissey ballooned two of his shots over Horgan’s crossbar, and then Christopher raced clear down the left wing only for Barry and Higgins to get in each other’s way and miss a chance to make it 2-0.
Higgins’ shot was then saved by McNulty. Galway were in control and they looked like the Premier Division team as Barry’s pass set up Melody and his audacious attempt at a lob landed just over the crossbar.
Cork offered a threat from their corners but down the other end, Melody and the Galway counter-attack could have extended the lead in the 72nd minute. Melody showed incredible strength to hold the ball up and set up the advancing Higgins but he could only force a corner.
There were five minutes added at the end and goalkeeper Mark McNulty came up for a late corner but Galway stayed solid and received a standing ovation from their fans. Cork didn’t have a single shot on-target in the game and they limped out of the cup in disappointing season.
Elsewhere, there was no shortage of drama around the country tonight.
Bohemians beat First Division Longford Town 5-4 on penalties at Dalymount after the sides finished level at 1-1 after extra-time.
Longford goalkeeper Lee Steacy saw his penalty saved by James Talbot to see Bohs go through to the last-eight.
Georgie Kelly struck three-minutes from the end of extra-time to see holders Dundalk win 3-2 away to Derry City.
The hosts had twice come from behind to force extra-time at the Ryan McBride Brandywell.
Shamrock Rovers breezed into the quarter finals with a 4-0 thrashing of Drogheda United.
A Liam Kerrigan brace helped UCD beat St. Pat's 3-1.
The Students also had Jack Kearney dismissed in the final minute at Belfield.
GALWAY UNITED: K Horgan; Lynch, Brouder (Murphy 85), Walsh, Ludden; Higgins, Collins, Nugent (C Horgan 82), Christopher; Barry, Melody (Faherty 84).
CORK CITY:: McNulty; C Horgan, McCarthy, Casey, Hurley; Coustrain (Griffin 45), Buckley, Morrissey, O’Connor (Sheppard 31); O’Sullivan, Stokes (O’Brien Whitmarsh 75).
Referee: Robert Rogers (Dublin).