Soccer: City secure third place as Dolan plans to close gap on top two

Cork City 1 Drogheda United 0

With Dolan promising major changes for next year as he rebuilds the club in an attempt to close the class divide between themselves and the league’s top two, Shelbourne and Bohemians, he can nevertheless reflect on the goals achieved.

“We wanted to finish third and to qualify for Europe for the first time in three years and we’ve done that.

"But the building work we’ve started will continue in the off-season now as we work to close the gap between ourselves and the front-runners in the league and we will be working hard to achieve that between now and the start of next season,” Dolan commented after yesterday’s victory.

However, he will be very well aware after this desultory affair that much work remains to be done and while Drogheda did not contribute much towards a free-flowing and attractive game, City obviously have a long way to go to get to where Dolan - and the fans - want them to be.

City dominated much of the possession throughout yesterday’s game and while Colin P. O’Brien and George O’Callaghan struggled manfully up front, there was a lack of sparkle about the performance overall, and a certain predictability about their wastefulness.

The game took a while to come to life and although City had two early chances, it was not until the 33rd minute that the game sparked into life when Derek Coughlan brought a fine save from Gary Rogers in the Drogheda goal after getting on the end of an O’Callaghan free kick.

Two minutes later and O’Callaghan himself had a shot come back off the foot of the post with Rogers beaten and then had a penalty claim dismissed by the referee.

The Corkman was at the heart of everything good that the home side did, and just before half-time he got on the end of a Dan Murray cross and his header brought another fine save out of Rogers.

Level at the break, Drogheda rang the changes for the second period with Pat Scully and John Flanagan making way for Paudie Gollogley and Shaun Gallagher, and Paul Doolin’s side started the brighter with Michael Devine saving well from Declan O’Brien after five minutes.

Rogers was called into action to save a long-range Billy Woods shot, and then was relieved to see Colin P. O’Brien ruled offside in a scoring position. But Drogheda had their own effort hit a post when Andy Myler’s firm header came agonisingly back into play.

It was a missed chance they would rue as City’s winner came on the 76th minute when Woods’ deep cross found Kevin Murray lurking with intent, and his header gave Rogers no chance.

The faithful gave Declan Daly a rousing welcome just before the end when he came on as a substitute, in what could well be his final appearance for the club, and that act neatly bookended a season in which a new era has promised a new dawn.

CORK CITY: M Devine, A. Bennett, D. Coughlan, D. Murray, N. Horgan, C.T. O’Brien, M. Mulconry, K. Murray, B. Woods, G. O’Callaghan, C. P. O’Brien. Subs: D. Daly for Woods and J. Nolan for O’Callaghan (85 mins) and D. Behan for C. P. O’Brien (88 mins).

DROGHEDA UNITED: G. Rogers, G. Cronin, D. O’Connor, A. Lynch, B. Molloy, P. Scully, M. Quinless, J. Flanagan, D. O’Brien, A. Myler, D. Tierney. Subs: P. Gollogelly for Scully and S. Gallagher for Flanagan (45 mins) and M. Connor for O’Brien ((72 mins).

Referee: J. O’Neill.

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