It’s becoming something of a trend now.
For the second time in six days, Cork City conceded a last-minute goal to drop points as Derek Foran pounced to grab a deserved share of the spoils for Shamrock Rovers at Tallaght Stadium last night.
Last Sunday afternoon, City were left cursing a Derry smash and grab at Turner’s Cross. Last night they came agonisingly close — 12 seconds, to be precise — to securing all three points thanks to Colin Healy’s 34th-minute opener.
However, it was Foran who had the final say for a Rovers side who were getting a little bit tetchy. The Hoops came into the game on the back of a goal drought, having failed to score in four, though Healy’s strike was also the first they conceded in over 550 minutes.
There was a certain amount of inevitability to the equaliser though, as the Leesiders played out the remaining 25 minutes with 10 men after Darren Dennehy was sent off for a nasty challenge on Stephen Rice.
Again the pitch, an overriding talking point across the league so far this season, caused some problems, but it was Rovers who took the initiative early on with Shane Robinson and Gary McCabe both firing over from range.
Hoops winger Billy Dennehy, up against not only his former club but also, for the first time, his brother — Darren stepping in to the place of City defender Dan Murray, who was out due to work commitments — almost opened the scoring following a marauding run forward only to be denied by a last-ditch John Dunleavy challenge as he was about to pull the trigger 20 minutes in.
Yet City soaked up the pressure and broke the deadlock with a killer counter-attack in the 34th minute. Adam Rundle, making his first league start, advanced down the left and with the Rovers defence scrambling, fizzed a cross toward the penalty spot. Healy, playing in a more advanced role than usual, was the first to arrive and he fired low and hard past the diving Murphy.
That really put pep in the visitors’ step and Rundle went close to getting his own name on the scoresheet with a ferocious belt from the edge of the area, though his effort flashed across goal and six inches wide.
A portion of the Rovers support were incensed at the break, with boos ringing out in the bitter Good Friday air. Stephen Rice replaced an injured Robinson, but it did little to ease the strain.
They did have the ball in the net on 54 minutes thanks to Gary McCabe but referee Derek Tomney awarded a free-out for a nudge on McNulty by Mark Quigley after the keeper spilled a Rice cross under pressure.
At the other end Daryl Horgan, playing through the pain of a hamstring injury, was desperately unlucky heading toward the hour mark with Ken Oman on hand to clear his punt off the line.
But the game turned on its head when Darren Dennehy was shown a straight red for going in late and high on Rice in the centre circle with 25 minutes to play. The Hoops ratcheted up the pressure and as City ceded ground, it seemed an equaliser would inevitably follow.
And while the visitors lived dangerously at times, Rovers’ profligacy looked like it would prove costly until Foran, thrown forward from defence in the dying moments, toe-poked home a Ronan Finn punt.
SHAMROCK ROVERS: Murphy; Sullivan, Oman, Foran, Powell; McCabe, Robinson (Rice 46), Chambers (Stewart 82), Finn, B Dennehy (Kilduff 60); Quigley.
CORK CITY: McNulty; Dunleavy, D Dennehy, K Murray, Murphy; Rundle (Turner 90), Morrissey, Duggan, Healy, D Horgan (Spillane 70); Kavanagh (Behan 70).
Referee: D Tomney (Dublin).