Not for the first time this season, Cork City were left wondering how they could end up with nothing to show for a game which they pretty much dominated from first to last.
To rub salt into the Leesiders’ wounds, the result has effectively put paid to their chances of winning the league, barring a major turnaround in the fortunes of the top three in the final third of the season. As a result of last night’s victory, Bohs are 10 points ahead of third-placed Cork and the attention now switches to Richmond Park tomorrow where the Gypsies’ closest challengers, St Patrick’s Athletic, host champions Drogheda.
City began at full throttle, putting their financial worries aside as they laid siege to the league leaders’ goal with a high-octane display of attacking football. Barely 15 seconds had elapsed when Denis Behan chested Neal Horgan’s pass on to Dave Mooney. Brian Murphy then became the first Bohs player to actually touch the ball when he acrobatically turned the prolific striker’s shot from an acute angle over the top.
The lively Cork strike force continued to put Bohs’ makeshift central defence of Thomas and Owen Heary under serious pressure, repeatedly forcing them into risky back passes, and then just past the 20 minute mark captain Dan Murray came up from the back to join in, heading powerfully over the bar from Danny Murphy’s cross. At this stage it was simply all Cork as Bohs struggled to get out of their own half.
Ten minutes before the break City were almost in again but, after Mooney had slipped the ball past the advancing Murphy, his namesake Anto was on hand to clear the danger.
Yet for all Cork’s domination on the pitch, the scoreboard showed both sides level at the break. Ironically, it was a Cork player who almost gave Bohs an unlikely lead eight minutes after the restart, Liam Kearney’s stooping header from Mark Rossiter’s cross just creeping past the outside of Michael Devine’s post. And a few minutes later, as Bohs finally began to test the home side’s defence, the Cork keeper had to make a great one-handed stop to deny Neale Fenn from close range.
But the balance of play continued to favour the home side who, just past the hour mark, brought on John O’Flynn in place of Darren Murphy to add even more firepower to their attack. Pat Fenlon responded by bringing on John Paul Kelly for Neale Fenn, the former Cork City striker, who had earlier received treatment for a knock.
And it was Kelly who in the 76th minute was, inadvertently, responsible for the build-up to the goal which rocked Cork and gave Bohs a huge title boost. The Bohs sub had been cleaned out by a late Colin Healy tackle and, after the Cork midfielder had been booked and the recriminations had died down, Anto Murphy posted a long ball to the far side of the box where, from Killian Brennan’s headed flick on, the veteran Glen Crowe responded quickest to lift the ball over the advancing Devine and into the corner of the net. Cue shock in The Shed and massive celebrations in the Bohemians dug-out as a classic smash and grab job suddenly took shape.
City continued to press to the end but to no avail. And it was the small band of travelling Bohs supporters in a good crowd of 4,200 who were still singing in Turner’s Cross long after the Rebel Army had folded up their tents and departed the scene.
CORK CITY: Devine, Horgan, Murray, Sullivan, Danny Murphy, Darren Murphy (O’ Flynn 67), Gamble, Healy, Kearney (Dudfield 82), Behan, Mooney
BOHEMIANS: B Murphy, A Murphy, O Geary, T Heary, Rossiter, Byrne (Kalonas 84), O’ Donnell, Deegan, Brennan, Fenn (Kelly 69), Crowe
Referee: Ian Stokes