Nevertheless, with nearly a month to go to the start of the Airtricity League, City boss Tommy Dunne is entitled to take great encouragement from the quality and desire his players exhibited, as a brace from Ian Turner and goals from Gearoid Morrissey and Daryl Kavanagh, in front of a crowd of 1,273, gave the home side a thumping four-goal lead going into next week’s second leg in Solitude of this Setanta Cup first round tie.
Cliftonville came south with a reputation as, quite literally, a well-seasoned club, being 12 points clear in the Dankse Bank Premier League, with a League Cup and 100 goals to their credit and still on the hunt for further cup glory. But, with a visit to second-placed Crusaders next up in their league campaign on Saturday, manager Tommy Breslin took the decision to rest a lot of his regulars for this Setanta Cup clash, the starting 11 in Turner’s Cross featuring just two — skipper Eamonn Seydak and striker Liam Boyce — from the side which beat Donegal Celtic 2-0 in the Irish Cup at the weekend.
City’s early pressure — and willingness to deploy plenty of bodies high up the pitch — paid off in the 16th minute when midfielder Gearoid Morrissey, close to 30 yards out, showed imagination to create the space before striking the proverbial daisy-cutter which gave the diving Brown no chance as it skimmed inside the post.
When City doubled their advantage in the 22nd minute, all the damage was done down the right side, Ian Turner doing well to win possession and then, when Neal Horgan took over to skip into the box, Cliftonville left-full Seydak was guilty of the trip which had referee Padraig Sutton immediately pointing to the spot. Turner stepped up to blast the penalty into the top corner and, in front of their travelling support, the Reds found themselves in the unaccustomed position this season of being two down barely halfway through the first 45 minutes.
Mark McNulty remained totally untroubled in the City goal. But right on the stroke of half-time, his counterpart Brown was deeply troubled — this time by a note-perfect Ian Turner free-kick, curved home from 30 yards, which left the poor Cliftonville netminder helpless.
There was nothing to write home about in the second half until as late as the 69th minute, when Cork made it four with a superbly constructed goal. Impressive all night, Dan Murray was the chief architect of the move, booming a pass half the length of the pitch into the path of Daryl Horgan, and the winger’s cross was, in turn, the perfect invitation for Daryl Kavanagh to get across both his marker and the keeper to glance home a header.
CORK CITY: McNulty, N Horgan, K Murray, D Murray, Murphy, Turner, Healy (D Morrissey), G Morrissey, Duggan (Rundle 87), D Horgan, Kavanagh (Furlong 73).
CLIFTONVILLE: Brown, Seydak (Reynolds 73), McVeigh, Caldwell, Cosgrove, Donnelly, Knowles, Lynch, McGonnell, Templeton (McMurray 56), Boyce (Warwick 73).