Kearney fires Cork into final

Bohemians 0 Cork City 2

For the Leesiders, who will meet either UCD or Longford Town in the final, it means the door is still firmly open to both UEFA and Setanta Cup football next season.

Liam Kearney, scorer of both goals, later paid tribute to man-of-the-match Leon McSweeney, who made the first, brilliantly set up the second and was outstanding throughout the whole 90 minutes.

“Leon was great,” said Kearney. “We had to soak up a lot of pressure but we always did well going at them and in the end were the better team.”

But for Bohemians and manager Sean Connor — who had earlier in the week described this game as their biggest of the season — the chorus of boos at the final whistle confirmed that a campaign which promised so much is ending on a downbeat note.

There was to be no homecoming at Dalymount for Gareth Farrelly, the former Bohs man ruled out with a chest infection. McSweeney took his place on the right side of the Cork midfield and, with his pace and incision, was a lively threat right from the off. Conor Powell had already had a bellyful of him before, reportedly suffering from stomach cramps, he was withdrawn by Sean Connor in the 23rd minute. But just 60 seconds later Bohs were really sickened.

Substitute Dean Richardson had barely taken Powell’s place when he was caught flat-footed by a Denis Behan flick-on.

McSweeney got away to cross low from the right and there was Kearney at the far post to finish from close range.

It was no more than Cork deserved from an open first half in which they had enjoyed the bulk of the goal chances. The game was barely five minutes old when Bohs keeper Brian Murphy spilled a deep Neal Horgan cross but John O’Flynn, on the turn, saw his effort blocked by Jason McGuinness.

Behan had two more decent chances before the half-hour mark, first when his own controlled header set up a shot on goal that was wide of the target.

Then, after McSweeney’s pass through the middle had split the Bohs defence, Behan hurried his shot from distance when he might easily have continued his run through on goal.

At the other end, Bohs were restricted to just two clear sights of goal in the first 45 minutes, despite a reshuffle in the Cork defence in the 28th minute when Brian O’Callaghan, doubtful beforehand with a hamstring problem, had to be replaced by Cillian Lordan.

After blocking Billy Woods’ attempted clearance, Darren Mansaram’s shot from a narrow angle drew a fine one-handed save from Devine, while right on the half-time whistle Mansaram finally found some room in the airspace dominated by Dan Murray, but could only head Harpal Singh’s cross down and into the grateful arms of the Cork keeper.

City, who had played a high defensive line throughout the first half, began to drop off in the second as Bohs, with Singh increasingly influential on the left, sought to apply more pressure.

Horgan had already been booked for pulling back the winger, and when Lordan and Mansaram tangled in the Cork box just past the hour mark, there was a big shout for a penalty from the Bohs faithful but referee Damien Hancock waved play on.

For the visitors, McSweeney continued to be the prickliest thorn in Bohs’ side, Heary going into the book for bringing him down just outside the box in the 70th minute.

Behan’s low drive from the resultant free was powerfully hit but comfortably gathered by Murphy.

At the other end, Singh came even closer with a free kick which whistled just over the angle of bar and post, but it was the Cork fans behind that who were celebrating again moments later when the visitors doubled their tally in splendid fashion.

Again it was McSweeney who did the damage, his brilliant running with the ball leaving a trail of black and red shirts before he poked a pass to Kearney on the left side of the box.

The man the Rebel Army hail as “Conna Maradona” did the rest, firing an angled shot low to the far corner of Murphy’s net.

Bohs’ desperation was clear when Sean Connor subbed his sub, former Cork striker Neale Fenn coming on for Richardson.

In the remaining minutes it was Cork who had the best chances to add to the night’s scoreline, Murphy denying Behan a couple of times before his opposite number Devine was called into making a fine double save to deny Bohs even the small mercy of a late consolation goal.

With the strains of “The Banks” echoing around Dalymount Park, the final whistle brought an end to the Dubliners’ misery and confirmed Cork’s safe arrival in the final of the FAI Cup.

BOHEMIANS: Murphy, Heary, McGuinness, Pooley, Powell (Richardson 24, Fenn 79) McCann (McGinley 59), Turner, Hunt, Singh, Mansaram, Crowe.

CORK CITY: Devine, Horgan, O’Callaghan (Lordan 28), Murray, Woods, McSweenry, Gamble, Healy, Kearney, Behan, O’Flynn.

Referee: Damien Hancock.

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