O’Flynn hat-trick too much for Bray

Cork City 3 Bray Wanderers 1

O'Flynn, 20, a native of Cobh, showed his considerable talent to fire Cork to a win that added to the relegation pressure on hapless Bray Wanderers. He produced an inspiring sequence of goals to bring his season's tally to 21 in all competitions and 14 in the League.

His impact against Bray was just the encouragement Cork needed as they faced into the demanding run-in to the season's end.

A minute's silence was observed before kick-off in memory of the great Alek Ludzik, whose death occurred recently. Ludzik was an integral of Cork football for almost 30 years, for he joined Cork Celtic in 1967/'68 season. Cork began at such a high tempo it was as if they were paying tribute to the memory of the charismatic goalkeeper, and centre-forward John O'Flynn played a central role. He caused panic in a Bray defence that was too often caught standing square and his pace made him an extremely dangerous foe.

He struck after just 12 minutes when Dan Murray played a clearance from half-way over the top of the Bray defence. O'Flynn controlled the ball expertly as it ran away from him and with Graham O'Hanlon trailing in his wake, he sprinted forward to stroke the ball wide of the advancing John Walshe.

O'Flynn was in again after 18 minutes, but this time Walshe was able to smother his shot at the edge of the penalty area, but it was so close that Bray manager Pat Devlin reacted immediately. He switched Paul O'Reilly and O'Hanlon clearly to counter O'Flynn's pace and the move worked for Bray were soon very much in the game.

O'Reilly had the pace to stay with O'Flynn, and O'Hanlon also profited to put a brake on the progress of the lively Billy Woods. Three times in a 15 minute spell they were close to equalising before half-time and their twin strikers, Jason Byrne and John Flood, carried an obvious threat.

Alan Carey came to Cork's rescue to knock the ball out for a corner when Byrne burst through and side-stepped Devine in the 13th minute only to lose the ball in the very act of putting it into the empty net. Devine saved well from Flood in the 17th minute and Bray were close again when Flood found Thomas Morgan with a clever header, but Morgan's shot from ten yards whipped over off the crossbar.

Cork had to plan without Greg O'Halloran because of suspension and this came as something of a disappointment after his excellent form in central midfield against Bohemians a week earlier. In his absence, Conor O'Grady contributed well on his return after injury and in partnership with the hard-working Alan Reynolds succeeded in giving Cork majority possession. Bray's youngsters played with the exuberance of youth and their enthusiasm meant that Cork could never relax. Flood was always an energetic presence at centre-forward alongside the canny Byrne and with Paul Forsyth regularly penetrating on the left-wing Bray were always capable of creating scoring chances.

They moved to increase their attacking options by bringing substitute Matt Britton to right-back for the second half and switching O'Hanlon to midfield to replace the veteran Gormley who was not his usual self.

Bray finally delivered on the promise they showed with an equalising goal two minutes into the second half. Forsyth set it up with a typical direct charge on the left wing before he clipped the ball across the edge of the six yards box. Byrne firmly met the ball with his instep and Devine reacted brilliantly to parry his shot. But the ball fell kindly for Barry O'Connor to claim the equaliser.

Cork's response was in keeping with their aggressive mood throughout the game. Manager Liam Murphy played his part by bringing in the two O'Briens to freshen things up in an attacking sense but it was the redoubtable O'Flynn, who continued to be the star. He was in devastating form and his powerful running meant Bray were always stretched. He penetrated with style and effectiveness but after his finishing left him down on a couple of occasions he delivered yet again in the 62nd minute.

The goal showed the young striker at his inventive best as he flicked the ball over the head of O'Reilly then sprinted clear before finishing with aplomb as he drilled his shot under the body of John Walshe.

This goal impressive and all as it was failed to match his explosive third in the 75th minute. This time Billy Woods over-hit a cross from the left-wing but the ball was rescued at the far side of goal by Colin T. O'Brien. He turned and crossed in the one movement and O'Flynn, at the near post, volleyed an exquisite goal to climax a compelling performance.

CORK CITY (4-4-2): Devine; Carey, Daly, Murray, Horgan; Warren (C. T. O'Brien 65), O'Grady, Reynolds, Woods, O'Callaghan (C. P. O'Brien 60), O'Flynn.

BRAY WANDERERS (4-4-2): Walshe; O'Reilly, O'Hanlon (Charles 79), Doohan (Fox 83), Long; O'Connor, Gormley (Britton 46), Morgan, Forsyth; Flood, Byrne.

Referee: Mr. H. Byrne (Dublin).

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