CORK City will have to wait another few weeks to finally relieve defending champions Dundalk of their league crown and smash their four in-a-row bid after a highly-charged and dramatic night’s football at a sold out Turner’s Cross tonight.
The breakthrough goal on 20 minutes had a touch of good fortune about it when Dundalk skipper Brian Gartland put through his own goal right in front of the Shed end but the Lillywhites equalised with three minute to go when Robbie Benson forced the ball home and the champagne stays on ice.
City who lost four of their last six league games made three changes from the defeat at Limerick Alan Bennett, Conor McCormack and Garry Buckley back in the starting eleven to the exclusion of Robbie Williams, Greg Bolger and Friday’s man of the match Kieran Sadlier.
Stephen Kenny’s defending champions, 11 points adrift of John Caulfield’s side at kick-off made five changes from the team that beat Drogheda with Chris Shields, Michael Duffy, Paddy McEleney, Robbie Benson and Sean Hoare all in for Stephen O’Donnell, Sean Kinsella,, Jamie McGrath, Conor Clifford and the suspended Niclas Vemmelund.
Garry Buckley’s shot was blocked by Gary Rogers but when the ball spun up in the air in the goalmouth Sean Hoare kicked it off Gartland’s head and the ball dropped into the net.
Rogers made two fine saves to deny Garry Buckley and Stephen Dooley on the half hour and six minutes later, Jimmy Keohane blazed over when it looked easier to score inside the box.
Cork are seeking their first league title in 12 years and hope to seal the 12th League of Ireland title won by a variety of Cork clubs over the decades going back to Fordsons, Cork Athletic, Cork United, Evergreen, Cork Celtic and Cork Hibernians.
The closest we came to another goal was on 70 minutes when Stephen Dooley’s free dipped just over the bar and Michael Duffy volleyed wide before Benson broke City hearts with his late goal and now the Rebel Army will have to wait until October 12 away to Bohemians to do the business.
Cork now need two points from their remaining four league games.
Cork City (4-2-3-1) - McNulty; Beattie, Bennett (capt), Delaney, Griffin; McCormack, Morrissey; Keohane, Buckley, Dooley; Sheppard.
Subs. Bolger, Campion, Sadlier, Ellis, McCarthy, Williams & Smith (not used)
Dundalk (4-2-3-1) - Rogers; Gannon, Gartland (capt), Hoare, Massey; Shields, Benson; Duffy, McEleney, Connolly; McMillan.
Subs. Grimes for Massey (injured 28 mins), O’Donnell for Shields (67 mins), McGrath for Duffy (84 mins), Mountney, Clifford, Stewart & Sava (not used)
Referee: Rob Rogers (Dublin)
Official attendance: 6,983 (Biggest of the season)
* Cork City's home game against Derry City, originally scheduled for Saturday, October 7th at 7pm, will now be played on Monday, October 16th at 7.45pm due to international call-ups.